To find out where this condition gets its name, we need to look at a specific area of the foot. Your foot is made up of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The plantar fascia is a relatively
inflexible, strong, fibrous band on the bottom of the foot that supports the arch of your foot. Beginning at the heel bone, the plantar fascia extends the length of your foot to connect with your
toes at the ball of the foot. When you walk, your weight is distributed across your feet. Any imbalances in the mechanics of your foot and distribution of weight can potentially cause pain. Diseases
involving inflammation end with "itis." This explains the name of the condition as being an inflammation of the plantar fascia, thus plantar fasciitis. Repetitive movements such as walking or running
stretch the plantar fascia. Because it is not very flexible, this can cause small tears in the fascia, which leads to inflammation and pain. Other factors such as high arches, fallen arches, or a
change in the walking surface contribute to the stress placed on the plantar fascia and heel.
The plantar fascia is designed to absorb the high stresses and strains we place on our feet. But, sometimes, too much pressure damages or tears the tissues. The body's natural response to injury is
inflammation, which results in the heel pain and stiffness of plantar fasciitis.
The heel pain characteristic of plantar fasciitis is usually felt on the bottom of the heel and is most intense with the first steps of the day. Individuals with plantar fasciitis often have
difficulty with dorsiflexion of the foot, an action in which the foot is brought toward the shin. This difficulty is usually due to tightness of the calf muscle or Achilles tendon, the latter of
which is connected to the back of the plantar fascia. Most cases of plantar fasciitis resolve on their own with time and respond well to conservative methods of treatment.
If you see a doctor for heel pain, he or she will first ask questions about where you feel the pain. If plantar fasciitis is suspected, the doctor will ask about what activities you've been doing
that might be putting you at risk. The doctor will also examine your foot by pressing on it or asking you to flex it to see if that makes the pain worse. If something else might be causing the pain,
like a heel spur or a bone fracture, the doctor may order an X-ray to take a look at the bones of your feet. In rare cases, if heel pain doesn't respond to regular treatments, the doctor also might
order an MRI scan of your foot. The good news about plantar fasciitis is that it usually goes away after a few months if you do a few simple things like stretching exercises and cutting back on
activities that might have caused the problem. Taking over-the-counter medicines can help with pain. It's rare that people need surgery for plantar fasciitis. Doctors only do surgery as a last resort
if nothing else eases the pain.
Non Surgical Treatment
Most health care providers agree that initial treatment for plantar fasciitis should be quite conservative. You'll probably be advised to avoid any exercise that is making your pain worse. Your
doctor may also advise one or more of these treatment options. A heel pad. In plantar fasciitis, a heel pad is sometimes used to cushion the painful heel if you spend a great deal of time on your
feet on hard surfaces. Also, over-the-counter or custom-made orthotics, which fit inside your shoes, may be constructed to address specific imbalances you may have with foot placement or gait.
Stretching: Stretching exercises performed three to five times a day can help elongate the heel cord. Ice: You may be advised to apply ice packs to your heel or to use an ice block to massage the
plantar fascia before going to bed each night. Pain relievers: Simple over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, are often helpful in decreasing inflammation
and pain. If you have stomach trouble from such drugs, your health care provider may prescribe an alternative. A night splint: A night splint is sometimes used to hold your foot at a specific angle,
which prevents the plantar fascia from shortening during sleep. Ultrasound: Ultrasound therapy can be performed to decrease inflammation and aid healing. Steroid injections: Anti-inflammatory steroid
injections directly into the tissue around your heel may be temporarily helpful. However, if these injections are used too many times, you may suffer other complications, such as shrinking of the fat
pad of your heel, which you need for insulation. Loss of the fat pad could actually increase your pain, or could even rupture the plantar fascia in rare cases. Walking cast: In cases of long-term
plantar fasciitis unresponsive to usual treatments, your doctor may recommend that you wear a short walking cast for about three weeks. This ensures that your foot is held in a position that allows
the plantar fascia to heal in a stretched, rather than shortened, position. Shock wave therapy, Extracorporeal shock wave therapy which may be prescribed prior to considering surgery if your symptoms
have persisted for more than six months. This treatment does not involve any actual incisions being made rather it uses a high intensity shock wave to stimulate healing of the plantar fascia.
The majority of patients, about 90%, will respond to appropriate non-operative treatment measures over a period of 3-6 months. Surgery is a treatment option for patients with persistent symptoms, but
is NOT recommended unless a patient has failed a minimum of 6-9 months of appropriate non-operative treatment. There are a number of reasons why surgery is not immediately entertained including.
Non-operative treatment when performed appropriately has a high rate of success. Recovery from any foot surgery often takes longer than patients expect. Complications following this type of surgery
can and DO occur! The surgery often does not fully address the underlying reason why the condition occurred therefore the surgery may not be completely effective. Prior to surgical intervention, it
is important that the treating physician ensure that the correct diagnosis has been made. This seems self-evident, but there are other potential causes of heel pain. Surgical intervention may include
extracorporeal shock wave therapy or endoscopic or open partial plantar fasciectomy.