Plantar means “Foot”, Fasciitis means “Inflammation of the fascia”
Plantar Fasciitis is a serious, painful, and progressing illness that occurs when the long, flat ligament along the bottom of your foot develops tears and inflammation. Serious cases can lead to tears in the ligament.
When you walk or run, you land on your heel and raise yourself on your toes as you shift your weight to your other foot, causing all your weight to be held up by your plantar fascia. Such repetitive force can pull the fascia from its attachment on your heel and cause damage and plantar fasciitis and heel spurs.
Plantar Fasciitis and heel spurs can become a painful condition that can lead to other serious complications such as knee, hip, and back pains.
The job of the planter fascia is to maintain the curve of the arch of the foot during movement. Another structure that can influence plantar fasciitis is the Achilles tendon. Sometimes, a tight Achilles tendon can lead to plantar fasciitis by distributing additional tension on the fascia.
Inflammation caused by plantar fasciitis occurs because of tissue damage. Inflammation is the body’s attempt to protect the area. Swelling and pain are often factors of this process.
Pain from plantar fasciitis can sometimes cause more than just discomfort. Plantar fasciitis causes an aching pain that can be localized in the heel, but also radiate throughout the foot. In most cases, pain is most noticeable and serious in the morning when getting out of bed, or after standing up after prolonged sitting. This is because pain in the inflamed area subsides after the plantar fascia relaxes. When weight is first placed on the heel again after long periods of rest, the pain is most severe. Pain tends to lessen somewhat during movement, but can return again later on in the day.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
The repetitive stress of certain conditions or activities commonly leads to plantar fasciitis. Among those conditions that may cause plantar fasciitis to flare up:
- Biomechanical factors, such as abnormal inward twisting of the foot (pronation), high arches, flat feet, or tight tendons along the back of the heel (Achilles tendons).
- Excessive pronation has been found in about 85% of those who suffer from plantar fasciitis. Pronation can be responsible for added tension in the plantar fascia as the arch lowers during standing or walking.
- Repetitive pressure on the feet, such as from jobs or activities that require prolonged walking or standing on hard or irregular surfaces. Running and exercise can also lead to wear and tear on the plantar fascia.
- Aggravating factors, such as being overweight or having poorly cushioned and supportive shoes.
- Natural process of aging which may cause tissue in the heels to weaken over time and/or promote wear and tear.
- In rare cases, a single, traumatic injury to the foot such as from a motor vehicle accident can cause the onset of plantar fasciitis.
At Doctors’ Choice Physical Medicine and Rehab, we employ a sports injury approach to address heel spurs and plantar fascia pain. We utilize a biomechanical evaluation as taught by the National Academy of Sports Medicine to determine what muscles are overly tight and shortened. This evaluation also tells us what muscles are weak and must be strengthened. Treatment is aimed at taking the tension out of the overly tense muscles, lengthening the short muscles, and strengthening the weak muscles.
Beyond the specific muscle balancing treatment, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory joint cream, and tapping of the foot, is the usual treatment. Some cases require foot orthotics (special shoe inserts [generic or custom made] may be necessary.
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This information is solely advisory, and should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all health care concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a health care professional who is familiar with your medical history.