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Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciitis): Symptoms, Causes and Treatments.

Plantar fascia is a band of thick fibrous connective tissue. It stretches from the bottom of the heel bone and along the sole of the foot towards the toes to form the arch of the foot. As the plantar fascia is not very elastic it is limited in its ability to stretch or elongate. When strained, the plantar fascia will develop micro-tearing. This results in pain and inflammation in the heel and arch of the foot.

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common sources of pain. Most often experienced under the heel; however, pain under the arch of the foot is also common. Pain may be more severe in the mornings, easing after warming up the ligament. Prolonged walking or standing may aggravate the injury.

Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include a sharp stabbing pain felt in the centre of the underside of the heel, or at the front or sides of the underside of the heel. The pain is more intense in the morning, at rest, or after sitting for a while.

During rest your plantar fascia shorten and tighten up, this causes more strain on the ligament, with sudden weight-bearing the tissue is traumatised, resulting in a sharp stabbing pain. Once your ligament warms up, it becomes more flexible, eliminating or reducing the pain. However, a long walking or standing for hours will aggravate the area causing pain once more.

Further injury and delayed healing may cause calcium (bone) to form within the plantar fascia. More commonly known as “heel spurs” when occurring adjacent to the heel bone, it has a much longer rehabilitation period. As such, it is important to see your podiatrist for treatment of plantar fasciitis as early as possible.

While more often associated with impact sports like running and contact sports, plantar fasciitis is also common in individuals with poor foot biomechanics. Other contributing factors include age, weight gain, sustained walking or standing on hard surfaces, poor fitting shoes that offer little arch support, and also prolonged inactivity.

Over-stretching of the plantar fascia is more likely to happen if you:

  • suffer from over-pronation (lowering of the arches)
  • stand/walk on hard surfaces for long periods
  • have gained weight recently
  • experience tension in the muscles and tendons of your feet and legs
  • are over 45

Approximately 90% of people with plantar fasciitis improve significantly within two months of initial plantar fasciitis treatment. If your plantar fasciitis continues after a few months of treatment, your podiatrist or physio will recommend a diagnostic ultrasound to rule out an “active tear”.

The common treatment methods your Podiatrist & Physio will recommend include:

  • regular icing of the area
  • rest or reduced activity
  • soft tissue mobilsation
  • plantar fasciitis insoles
  • specific plantar fascial exercises
  • shockwave therapy

To prevent future episodes or the development of a heel spur, it is vital to thoroughly assess and correct your foot and leg biomechanics. The most effective solution is to use plantar fasciitis insoles.  Plantar fasciitis insoles control over-pronation and support the arches. They help release the tension on your plantar fascia, thereby treating the cause of the problem and allowing the inflamed tissue to heal much faster.

Are your feet and heels aching? Contact ModPod Podiatry today. Booking your consultation with one of our friendly and professional team will bring you one step closer to relieving those aches and pains so that you can keep up with your busy schedule.