What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a common, painful condition caused by overuse and inflammation of the fascia (soft tissue) in the heel and foot. The plantar fascia is a strong, soft-tissue band running from the heel to the ball of your foot and acts as a shock absorber. The most common site of inflammation and pain is in the heel.
What are the causes for plantar fasciitis?
- Prolonged periods of standing or increased training
- Foot abnormalities such as flat feet or over pronation
- Increased body weight
- Tightness in the calf muscles
What are the signs and symptoms?
- Heel pain which is typically worse first thing in the morning, often called 'first step' pain
- 'First step' pain usually eases after walking a few steps
- Heel pain also increases with prolonged periods of standing, walking or getting up after periods of rest
How do I manage this problem?
- Shoes: Wear comfortable shoes with soft soles and good arch support
- Rest: try to take adequate breaks inbetween walking or periods of standing
- Activity modification is key and you may be given advice from your physiotherapist or podiatrist
- Weight loss is a key factor in controlling heel pain
- Localised massage followed by an ice pack can help settle mild symptoms
- Heel pads: Most chemist shops supply soft gel insoles or heel pads which help to ease pressure around the heel
- Exercises: Calf muscle and foot stretching exercises are usually helpful (please see attached exercise sheet)
What other treatments are available?
- Physiotherapy: Your physiotherapist may use various manual therapy techniques, acupuncture, taping, night splinting and specific exercises to relieve the symptoms and prevent recurrence
- Podiatry: Your podiatrist may assess your foot biomechanics (the way your foot joints move) and advise on the right orthotic supports for your foot
- Corticosteroid injection: Your specialist physiotherapist or doctor may inject your plantar fascia to relieve pain
- Surgery: is rarely considered for but if symptoms persist over 12 months an orthopaedic opinion may be recommended.