Plantar fasciitis is an inflammatory condition that is characterised by the thickening of the tissue that connects the heel to the front of the foot. This tissue is called the plantar fascia, and even slight damage to it can leave you with significant heel pain, which can worsen when you've been on your feet for an extended period or when walking up stairs. Read on to find out about common causes of plantar fasciitis and how it's treated.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
You won't always be able to determine why you've developed plantar fasciitis, but it commonly develops as a result of having a tight Achilles tendon, wearing shoes that don't offer sufficient support and having a poor running technique. It can also develop as a result of regularly being on your feet for hours at a time. You may notice heel pain developing gradually, or severe pain may develop suddenly as if out of the blue.
How Is Plantar Fasciitis Treated?
Plantar fasciitis can be treated by a podiatrist. They will diagnose the condition by carrying out a physical exam, which may involve gently manipulating your foot to determine whether muscle stiffness is present and limiting the range of movement in the affected foot. If there are any doubts about the cause of your heel pain, your podiatrist may refer you for diagnostic imaging, such as an ultrasound scan, to confirm the plantar fascia is inflamed.
Once diagnosed, a treatment plan will be formulated to meet your specific needs. Treatment may include complete rest, gentle foot exercises to loosen the tendons and muscles in your foot and orthotic insoles. These insoles will be custom-made to support your feet and reduce the pressure on your heel, which can help facilitate healing. In some cases, steroid injections may be recommended to help reduce inflammation, but you should discuss the pros and cons of corticosteroids with your podiatrist and GP before use.
If conservative treatment methods are not successful, your podiatrist may refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon to have the plantar fascia tissue detached from your heel bone. This will allow you to experience immediate relief from the tightness that's causing your heel pain, and your podiatrist will work with you during recovery to improve flexibility and help strengthen the muscles in the affected foot.
If you're experiencing persistent heel pain that can flare up when walking or standing for long periods, schedule an appointment with your podiatrist to obtain a diagnosis and begin treatment.