What is Plantar Fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes. It helps support the overall shape of your foot, especially when standing. Plantar fasciitis (Plan-tar fashee-eye-tiss) – the irritation and scarring of the plantar fascia – is one of the most common causes of heel pain. Often there’s no single event that triggers heel pain. More often, it develops over time and can become extremely painful, especially the first few steps in the morning.
You’re more likely to develop the condition if you’re female, overweight or have a job that requires a lot of walking or standing on hard surfaces. Risk factors include the natural shape of your foot (flat or high arch), your activities (walking or running) and improper shoe wear.
Causes of Heel Pain
In many cases, the source of painful heels will never be clearly defined. Probable causes include:
- Inappropriate shoes with little cushioning or arch support.
- Activities including toe running, hill running or running on soft terrain (sand)
Lack of flexibility in the calf muscles.
- Spending an increased amount of time on your feet.
- Ageing: with age the fat pad on your foot becomes thinner.
- Sudden injuries
- Being overweight
Treatment of Heel Pain
Conservative treatment is recommended for the first 12 months following the onset of symptoms.
Stretching: is the single most important treatment of heel pain. You should stretch at least six times a day, as it will help to lengthen your plantar fascia and Achilles tendons.
Anti-inflammatory techniques & medication
Icing is the preferred method. Ice can be applied to the sore area for 20 minutes 3-4 times a day, preferably after you’ve completed your stretches. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medicines (NSAIDs) may also be used intermittently to help decrease inflammation and pain.
Heel Cups or shoe supports
Effective in treating plantar fasciitis. These should be used on a daily basis in your everyday shoes. They cushion the pain in your heel and reduce the stress on your Achilles tendon. Sneakers and walking shoes should be worn whenever possible.
The most potent agent available to suppress inflammation. It is injected (in conjunction with local anaesthetic) directly into the painful area in an attempt to decrease inflammation and relieve pain.
Is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that may be performed as a day case. A telescope is used to aid the release of the plantar fascia. Immediate weight-bearing is possible by wearing a camboot.
Is Plantar Fasciitis the same thing as Flat Feet or Fallen Arches?
No. Plantar Fasciitis is a specific injury, though it’s quite common for people for are suffering from Flat Feet or Fallen Arches (also called Overpronoation) to experience this.
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Dr Gordon Slater is a highly-skilled surgeon specialising in foot and ankle conditions and sports injuries. Dr Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions. MIS has many advantages including shorter operating times, reduced post-operative pain, reduced risk of infection, minimal scarring and better cosmetic outcomes.