Plantar fasciitis is a common foot condition that affects both men and women. It is characterized by pain particularly at the bottom of the foot. While this is not a serious ailment, it can still disrupt the normal function of your foot. Here are ways to properly respond to the symptoms of this condition.
Why the name
The first thing to look into is why it is called plantar fasciitis. This is because plantar fascia is the band of ligament that is found on your foot. It connects your heel bone to your toes. The condition that affects this thick connective band is derived from its name hence the term plantar fasciitis.
There are many causes that plantar fasciitis is attributed to. Here are some of them:
- Tension and stress on the band of tissue from repetitive or strenuous activities
- Wearing of shoes with inadequate support to the foot or heel bone
- Too much stretching and tearing of plantar fascia (the reason why runners may develop this condition over time)
Not much is known about the root cause of plantar fasciitis except for the ones mentioned above. However, there are some risk factors that can be identified which increase the susceptibility of a person to develop this condition. Here are those factors:
- Jobs. There are certain jobs that can increase the susceptibility of a person to experience plantar fasciitis. Type of jobs would mean long periods of standing and walking. Examples of said jobs are teaching and working at factories.
- Biological disposition. There are some people with feet that are susceptible to plantar fasciitis. One example is people with a high arc, often called flat-footed. This adds more stress to the plantar fascia while walking so it could ultimately lead to plantar fasciitis.
- Age. Another risk factor is age. Plantar fasciitis is a common ailment among middle-aged adults (40 to 60 years old to be exact).
- Strenuous activities. Tension and stress on the plantar fascia are the main causes of this condition. This is why plantar fasciitis is common among dancers and runners.
- Obesity. Extra weight means more stress on your foot especially when moving about. This could cause tearing in the plantar fascia.
These are the typical tell-tale signs of plantar fasciitis:
- Stabbing pain on the bottom of the foot particularly close to the heel bone
- The pain is at its worst when you take your first steps early in the morning. It disappears after a few steps.
- Same pain recurs after long periods of standing, sitting, or lying down.
- The pain disappears when a person is in action. It only manifests when the feet are at rest.
Only the doctor can definitively say that what you are experiencing is indeed plantar fasciitis. A physical exam is done to ascertain whether it is the plantar fascia that you are having concerns with or a different foot problem altogether. To rule out other ailments, the following are usually checked with the foot as the primary location:
- Muscle tone
An X-ray might also be required just to rule out possible bone injury such as a heel bone fracture or sprain.
The good thing about plantar fasciitis is that there are available remedies that you can readily do at home to alleviate the pain. Here are some of those remedies:
- Soaking feet in cold water (preferably with ice) for fifteen minutes. This is to manage the swelling of the plantar fascia.
- Get good shoes. There are some brands that are specifically designed for better plantar fascia and heel support. You can ask the store attendant about this or you can do your own research.
- Do not do too many activities that will add extra stress on your foot.
- Manage your diet. Research has proven a link between obesity and plantar fasciitis.
- Put on night splints that provide that needed stretch for the calf and the arch of your foot.
- Take anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen or ibuprofen.
If symptoms persist and increase in severity, you should consult a physician. The doctor can do several things such as:
- Injecting corticosteroids on the damaged part of the plantar fascia
- Refer you to a physical therapist who has experience in working with patients who have the same condition
- Administer extracorporeal shock therapy where the heels are exposed to sound waves to bring about healing in the plantar fascia. The only downside to this is that it may cause various side effects including swelling and numbness.
- Perform a specialized surgery called gastrocnemius recession which lengthens the calf muscle for better support. Another method is to detach some parts of the plantar fascia from the heel bone but this is difficult of perform and may have unsafe results. Other side effects could be bleeding and infection. Make sure you go to a trusted physician with years of experience so you can prevent nerve damage from every happening.
If nothing is done, plantar fasciitis can lead to different complications. These include:
- Recurring foot pain
- Injury to back, knees, legs, and hips
- Cause a change in the way you walk
- Wrong medication such as steroids can cause ligament rupture and plantar fascia weakness
Plantar fasciitis, while common, can still affect your normal routine. Do not be at the mercy of this condition. You have both home remedies and medical intervention just in case it gets any worse. Once you observe the symptoms, see the doctor immediately so he/she can definitively say the type of condition you have.