Plantar Fasciitis: What You Need to Know

Plantar fasciitis is a common foot malady, and treatment options run the gamut from conservative care to surgery.

Here’s what you need to know about this problematic condition.

What is plantar fasciitis? What are its telltale symptoms?

“Plantar” refers to the bottom surface of your foot, while the “fascia” is a band of connective tissue. Those who suffer from plantar fasciitis have an inflammation of the connective tissue from the heel to the ball of the foot. The soft tissue of the plantar fascia can stretch, or even tear, causing pain that some describe as feeling as if their feet were on fire.

How does it differ from heel pain?

The answer lies in the anatomy of the heel. Although the symptoms may be similar to with other heel pain, it’s important to identify what part of the structure is actually injured or inflamed.

Conditions that are similar to plantar fasciitis

Achilles Tendonitis
Repetitive stress to the large tendon that runs down the back of your ankle to your heel may result in pain that mimics plantar fasciitis.

Trauma, deterioration over time, inflammation of tendons, or muscle dysfunction can result in a loss of support for the arch of the foot. It’s correctable, but permanent damage may result if not treated in a timely manner.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Compression of a nerve can lead to a tingling or burning sensation in the ankle or even in the arch of the foot.

Bottom Line
See a podiatrist to identify the specific cause of your heel pain. Don’t wait. The pain only tends to get worse over time.

Treatment Options

Diagnosis of plantar fasciitis can easily be confirmed with diagnostic ultrasound or MRI. There is a long list of treatment options and we will work with you to develop a treatment plan based on your individual needs. Options could include orthotics, stretching exercises, physical therapy, injections or, in some cases, surgery, depending on the severity of the condition.

Patients shouldn’t expect to recover overnight when using custom orthotics. Remember, we are changing the way you’ve been walking for your entire life. There needs to be a period of adjustment.

Recommended Exercises

» Pick up a towel with your toes for 10 seconds, while standing upright. Do this for two to three minutes at a time. Repeat up to three times per day.
» Roll a small frozen water bottle along the bottom of the foot for 20 minutes. The cold temperature helps decrease inflammation. Repeat up to three times daily.
» Perform a heel cord stretch. Sit on a chair or on the ground with your leg straight in front of you. Loop a towel or strap around the ball of your foot, holding onto the ends with one hand. After slightly bending your knee, steadily pull the towel or strap toward you to stretch your calf muscles. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat the motion 10 times. You may perform this stretch up to three times a day.
» Stretch the Achilles tendon. Face the wall, standing about an arm’s length away. Place the non-affected foot in front of you and the affected foot behind you. Keeping both feet flat on the floor, lean in toward the wall to stretch out your calf. Hold for 60 seconds and then relax. Repeat 10 times. You may perform this stretch up to three times a day.

Written by PRO Sports Club

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