Plantar fasciitis is a common foot disorder that affects more than two million people every year, especially runners. It is inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue on the bottom of
the foot. The most common area of pain is directly on the bottom of the heel, although some people may only have pain in the arch of the foot. Diagnosis of plantar fasciitis is typically done through
a physical examination, which includes listening to the patient history, palpation of the heel and possibly x-rays.
The most frequent cause is an abnormal motion of the foot called excessive pronation. Normally, while walking or during long distance running, your foot will strike the ground on the heel, then roll
forward toward your toes and inward to the arch. Your arch should only dip slightly during this motion. If it lowers too much, you have what is known as excessive pronation. For more details on
pronation, please see the section on biomechanics and gait. Clinically not only those with low arches, but those with high arches can sometimes have plantar fasciitis. The mechanical structure of
your feet and the manner in which the different segments of your feet are linked together and joined with your legs has a major impact on their function and on the development of mechanically caused
problems. Merely having "flat feet" won't take the spring out of your step, but having badly functioning feet with poor bone alignment will adversely affect the muscles, ligaments, and tendons and
can create a variety of aches and pains. Excess pronation can cause the arch of your foot to stretch excessively with each step. It can also cause too much motion in segments of the foot that should
be stable as you are walking or running. This "hypermobility" may cause other bones to shift and cause other mechanically induced problems.
Plantar fasciitis is characterized by the following signs and symptoms. Acute plantar fasciitis, pain is usually worse in the morning but may improve when activity continues; if the plantar fasciitis
is severe, activity will exacerbate the pain, pain will worsen during the day and may radiate to calf or forefoot, pain may be described anywhere from "minor pulling" sensation, to "burning", or to
"knife-like", the plantar fascia may be taut or thickened, passive stretching of the plantar fascia or the patient standing on their toes may exacerbate symptoms, acute tenderness deep in the
heel-pad along the insertion of the plantar aponeurosis at the medial calcaneal tuberosity and along the length of the plantar fascia, may have localized swelling. Chronic plantar fasciitis, plantar
fasciitis is classified as "chronic" if it has not resolved after six months, pain occurs more distally along the aponeurosis and spreads into the Achilles tendon.
Plantar fasciitis is usually diagnosed by a health care provider after consideration of a personâs presenting history, risk factors, and clinical examination. Tenderness to palpation along the
inner aspect of the heel bone on the sole of the foot may be elicited during the physical examination. The foot may have limited dorsiflexion due to tightness of the calf muscles or the Achilles
tendon. Dorsiflexion of the foot may elicit the pain due to stretching of the plantar fascia with this motion. Diagnostic imaging studies are not usually needed to diagnose plantar fasciitis.
However, in certain cases a physician may decide imaging studies (such as X-rays, diagnostic ultrasound or MRI) are warranted to rule out other serious causes of foot pain. Bilateral heel pain or
heel pain in the context of a systemic illness may indicate a need for a more in-depth diagnostic investigation. Lateral view x-rays of the ankle are the recommended first-line imaging modality to
assess for other causes of heel pain such as stress fractures or bone spur development. Plantar fascia aponeurosis thickening at the heel greater than 5 millimeters as demonstrated by ultrasound is
consistent with a diagnosis of plantar fasciitis. An incidental finding associated with this condition is a heel spur, a small bony calcification on the calcaneus (heel bone), which can be found in
up to 50% of those with plantar fasciitis. In such cases, it is the underlying plantar fasciitis that produces the heel pain, and not the spur itself. The condition is responsible for the creation of
the spur though the clinical significance of heel spurs in plantar fasciitis remains unclear.
Non Surgical Treatment
Reducing inflammation in the plantar fascia ligament is an important part of treatment, though this does not address the underlying damage to the ligament. Initial home treatment includes staying off
your feet and applying ice for 15 to 20 minutes three or four times a day to reduce swelling. You can also try reducing or changing your exercise activities. Using arch supports in your shoes and
doing stretching exercises may also help to relieve pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen (i.e. Motrin or Advil) and naproxen (i.e. Aleve), are often used to reduce
inflammation in the ligament. If home treatments and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs donât ease the pain, an injection of a corticosteroid directly into the damaged section of the ligament
can be given. Your doctor can do this in his or her office. Your doctor may use an ultrasound device to help determine the best place for the injection. Corticosteroids can also be administered on
the skin of your heel or the arch of your foot, and then a painless electrical current is applied to let the steroid pass through your skin and into the muscle. Physical therapy is an important part
of treatment for planter fasciitis. It can help stretch your plantar fascia and Achilles tendons. A physical therapist can also show you exercises to strengthen your lower leg muscles, helping to
stabilize your walk and lessen the workload on your plantar fascia. If pain continues and other methods arenât working, your doctor may recommend extracorporeal shock wave therapy. Sound waves are
bombarded against your heel to stimulate healing within the ligament. This treatment can result in bruises, swelling, pain, and numbness, and has not been proven to be consistently effective in
When more-conservative measures aren't working, your doctor might recommend steroid shots. Injecting a type of steroid medication into the tender area can provide temporary pain relief. Multiple
injections aren't recommended because they can weaken your plantar fascia and possibly cause it to rupture, as well as shrink the fat pad covering your heel bone. Extracorporeal shock wave therapy.
In this procedure, sound waves are directed at the area of heel pain to stimulate healing. It's usually used for chronic plantar fasciitis that hasn't responded to more-conservative treatments. This
procedure may cause bruises, swelling, pain, numbness or tingling and has not been shown to be consistently effective. Surgery. Few people need surgery to detach the plantar fascia from the heel
bone. It's generally an option only when the pain is severe and all else fails. Side effects include a weakening of the arch in your foot.