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Plantar Fasciitis

Definition

Plantar Fasciitis is s a painful inflammatory condition usually felt on the underside of the heel, and is often most intense with the first steps of the day.  The plantar fascia is a broad band of fibrous tissue which runs along the bottom surface of the foot, attaching at the bottom of the heel bone and extending to the forefoot. When the plantar fascia is excessively stretched, this can cause plantar fasciitis, which can also lead to heel pain, arch pain, and heel spurs.

Cause

Plantar Fasciitis often leads to heel pain, heel spurs, and/or arch pain. The excessive stretching of the plantar fascia that leads to the inflammation and discomfort can be caused by the following:

  • Over-pronation which results in the arch collapsing upon weight bearing
  • A foot with an unusually high arch
  • A sudden increase in physical activity
  • Excessive weight on the foot, usually attributed to obesity or pregnancy
  • Improperly fitting footwear
  • Over-pronation and arch collapse are the leading causes of plantar fasciitis. Over-pronation occurs in the walking process, when the heel bone angles inward and the arch tends to collapse  causing the plantar fascia to be stretched away from the heel bone.

Treatment and Prevention

The key for the proper treatment of plantar fasciitis is determining what is causing the excessive stretching of the plantar fascia. When the cause is over-pronation, footwear should be the first thing addressed. The sole should be stiff through the arch section and have a strong heel counter.  A motion control athletic shoe is the easiest way to accomplish this. Additionally an  arch support and  rearfoot posting are effective in reducing over-pronation and allow the condition to heal. 

If you have unusually high arches, which can also lead to plantar fasciitis, cushion the heel, absorb shock and wear proper footwear that will accommodate and comfort the foot.  Arch support may also be useful to reduce the weight on the heel and stretching of the fascia.

Other common treatments include stretching exercises, plantar fasciitis night splints, wearing shoes that have a cushioned heel to absorb shock, and elevating the heel with the use of a heel cradle or heel cup. Heel cradles and heel cups provide extra comfort, cushion the heel, and reduce the amount of shock and shear forces placed during everyday activities.

If problem persists, consult your foot doctor.