Plantar fasciitis is a painful inflammation of the plantar fascia, a fibrous band of tissue on the bottom of the foot that helps to support the arch. Plantar fasciitis occurs when this band of tissue
is overloaded or overstretched. This causes small tears in the fibers of the fascia, especially where the fascia meets the heel bone. Plantar fasciitis is common in obese people and in pregnant
women, perhaps because their extra body weight overloads the delicate plantar fascia. It is also more common in people with diabetes, although the exact reason for this is unknown. Plantar fasciitis
also can be triggered by physical activities that overstretch the fascia, including sports (volleyball, running, tennis), other exercises (step aerobics, stair climbing) or household exertion
(pushing furniture or a large appliance). In athletes, plantar fasciitis may follow intense training, especially in runners who push themselves too quickly to run longer distances. Worn or poorly
constructed shoes can contribute to the problem if they do not provide enough arch support, heel cushion or sole flexibility.
Far and away the most common cause of plantar fasciitis in an athlete is faulty biomechanics of the foot or leg. Faulty biomechanics causes the foot to sustain increased or prolonged stresses over
and above those of routine ground contacts. Throughout the phase of ground contact, the foot assumes several mechanical positions to dissipate shock while at the same time placing the foot in the
best position to deliver ground forces. With heel landing the foot is supinated (ankle rolled out). At mid-stance the foot is pronated (ankle rolled in). The foot is supinated again with toe-off. The
supination of the foot at heel strike and toe-off makes the foot a rigid lever. At heel strike the shock of ground contact is transferred to the powerful quads. During toe-off forward motion is
created by contraction of the gastroc complex plantar flexing the rigid lever of the foot pushing the body forward.
Plantar fasciitis typically causes a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot near the heel. The pain is usually worst with the first few steps after awakening, although it can also be triggered by
long periods of standing or getting up from a seated position.
A physical exam performed in the office along with the diagnostic studies as an x-ray. An MRI may also be required to rule out a stress fracture, or a tear of the plantar fascia. These are conditions
that do not normally respond to common plantar fasciitis treatment.
Non Surgical Treatment
Your doctor will determine what treatment is best for your condition. The most common treatments for plantar fasciitis include icing the affected area, inserting custom-made orthotics into your
shoes, massaging the plantar fascia, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroid injections, strengthening the foot, wearing a night splint, wearing shoes with arch support, physical
therapy, stretching the calf muscles, shockwave therapy or radiotherapy. To keep the plantar fascia lengthened as you sleep, your doctor may ask you to wear night splints. In the morning, taking your
first steps is less painful because the plantar fascia remains stretched throughout the night. Avoiding activities such as walking or running helps the healing process. Losing weight, if it is a
factor in the condition, may help to reduce the stress placed on the plantar fascia.
The most common surgical procedure for plantar fasciitis is plantar fascia release. It involves surgical removal of a part from the plantar fascia ligament which will relieve the inflammation and
reduce the tension. Plantar fascia release is either an open surgery or endoscopic surgery (insertion of special surgical instruments through small incisions). While both methods are performed under
local anesthesia the open procedure may take more time to recover. Other surgical procedures can be used as well but they are rarely an option. Complications of plantar fasciitis surgery are rare but
they are not impossible. All types of plantar fasciitis surgery pose a risk of infection, nerve damage, and anesthesia related complications including systemic toxicity, and persistence or worsening
of heel pain.
Being overweight can place excess pressure and strain on your feet, particularly on your heels. Losing weight, and maintaining a healthy weight by combining regular exercise with a healthy, balanced
diet, can be beneficial for your feet. Wearing appropriate footwear is also important. Ideally, you should wear shoes with a low to moderate heel that supports and cushions your arches and heels.
Avoid wearing shoes with no heels.