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Today in Health & Wellness
HEALTH CONDITIONS

Plantar Fasciitis

Overview
Symptoms
Risk Factors
Treatment and Management
Home Remedies
Doctors to Consult
Overview

Plantar fasciitis (PLAN-ter fash-ee-EYE-tiss) is the most common cause of pain in the bottom of the heel. It occurs when the feet's plantar fascia becomes swollen or inflamed. The plantar fascia is the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot which connects the heels to the front of the foot. It also supports the arch of the foot.

The plantar fascia acts as shock absorber against high stresses and strains placed on the feet. However, overusage and overstretching damages or tears the tissues which results to heel pain and stiffness or plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis is common in runners and athletes, but it can occur in anyone and at any age. It can also happen in one or both feet.

Symptoms

Pain is the most common symptom of plantar fasciitis. Most people with plantar fasciitis experience pain when they take their first steps after they get out of bed or after sitting for a long time. Stiffness and pain may lessen after a few steps but may hurt more as the day goes by. The pain may develop slowly over time or suddenly after an intense activity.

Risk Factors
  • High arches or flat feet (flat-footed)
  • Obesity or sudden weight gain
  • Tight achilles tendon (the tendon connecting the calf muscle to the heel)
  • Repetitive impact activity (sports/running)
  • Wearing shoes with poor cushioning or poor arch support.
  • Exercising on a different surface (e.g. running on the road instead of a track)
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Treatment and Management
  • Pain killers such as paracetamol or anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen are useful to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Physical therapy can help treat plantar fasciitis. Your therapist can also show you exercises to strengthen your lower leg muscles to stabilize your walk and lessen the stress on your plantar fascia.
  • Steroid injections can provide temporary pain relief, however multiple shots are not recommended as it can cause a tear in the plantar fascia, which can lead to flat foot and chronic pain.
  • Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) is often tried before considering surgery. In this procedure, high-energy shockwave impulses stimulate the healing process to the damaged tissue.
  • Surgery is considered only after a year of aggressive non-surgical treatment. It is only considered when the pain is severe and all other treatment options fail.
Home Remedies
  • Rest. Decrease, or if possible, stop activities that may cause more stress on your feet. Try to avoid athletic activities such as running or walking especially on hard surfaces.
  • Ice. Apply ice over the area of pain for 15-20 minutes or as needed after activity. Regular ice massage can help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Wear supportive shoes. Buy shoes with a low to moderate heels, good arch support and shock absorbency. Try to avoid high heels. Replace your worn-out athletic shoes that no longer provide support to your feet. For runners, buy new shoes after about 500 miles of use.
  • Maintain healthy weight to minimize stress on your feet.
  • Exercise. Do simple exercises such as toe stretches or calf stretches several times a day especially right after waking up in the morning. Exercise helps strengthen your muscle and makes it more flexible. It is also important to stretch your feet before exercise.
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