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Plantar fasciitis

Introduction

Plantar fasciitis is a common and debilitating condition. This is one of the most common form of foot pain for the general population. It has been reported that up to 20 % of the population within the UK will suffer from symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis causes pain in the bottom of the heel. It is usually worse after periods of rest – most noticeable in the morning for the first few steps when getting out of bed. The plantar fascia is a thick, weblike ligament that connects your heel to the front of your foot. The plantar fascia is a connective tissue, which is structurally a lot like a ligament and passes from your heel, under arch of the foot and fans out to toes. It acts as a shock absorber and supports the arch of your foot, helping you walk. Plantar fasciitis is also known as a policeman’s heel and plantar fasciopathy. Your plantar fascia ligaments experience a lot of wear and tear in your daily life. Too much pressure on your feet can damage or tear the ligaments. The plantar fascia becomes inflamed, and the inflammation causes heel pain and stiffness.

Causes

  • The most common cause of plantar heel pain (fasciitis/fasciopathy) relates to faulty structure of the foot and overuse. For example, people who have either flexible overly flat feet or high-arched feet, are more prone to developing plantar heel pain.
  • Wearing non-supportive footwear on hard, flat surfaces puts abnormal strain on the plantar fascia and can also lead to plantar fasciitis.
  • This is particularly evident when one’s job requires long hours on the feet.
  • Obesity may also contribute to plantar fasciitis.
  • It is also a very common running and sporting injury.

At Mediacity physio and training centre highly skilled clinicians will be able to determine cause that may be contributing to the onset of this disorder and can identify symptom patterns which may be indicative of plantar fasciopathy.

Signs & Symptoms

The major complaint of those with plantar fasciitis is pain at the bottom of the heel or sometimes at the bottom mid-foot area. It usually affects just one foot, but it can affect both feet.

Pain from plantar fasciitis develops gradually over time. The pain can be dull or sharp. Patient may feel a burning or ache on the bottom of the foot extending outward from the heel.

The pain is usually worse in the morning when you take your first steps out of bed, or if you’ve been sitting or lying down for a while. Climbing stairs can be very difficult due to heel stiffness.

After prolonged activity, the pain can flare up due to increased irritation or inflammation. Patient with plantar fasciitis don’t usually feel pain during the activity, but rather just after stopping.

Prevalence

Active men and women between the ages of 40 and 70 are at the highest risk for developing plantar fasciitis. It’s also slightly more common in women than men.

Assessment and diagnosis

By taking Assessment including the thorough history of your symptoms, clinical examination, risk factors the Physiotherapy team at mediacity physio will be able to examine detail regarding changes in activity, which could have played a role in overloading the plantar fascia, leading to the discomfort experienced. Our Physiotherapists will be able to assess these local structures to determine if your pain is originating from this region and will provide you with a fast and accurate diagnosis so that an effective treatment and management plan can be implemented immediately.

When to see your GP/Physiotherapist

  • If your pain is no better after at least a month or you develop other symptoms
  • If the foot is hot, red and swollen
  • If you are being feverish and short of breath or if you have had a sudden unexplained loss of weight.

Diet and nutrition

There are no special diets that have been shown to either help or prevent Plantar Fasciitis. However, if you’re overweight you should consider changing your diet and doing some regular exercise to help you lose weight, as this is very likely to decrease your pain.

What’s recommend for us all is a well-balanced and healthy diet, which is low in saturated fats, sugar and salt. It’s also a very good idea to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and to drink plenty of water.

If you need to lose weight, the key is to regularly burn off more energy than you consume daily.

Priority treatment for planter fasciitis

  • First line of treatment is a shock-absorbent heel cup. 
  • Try night splints.
  • Avoid walking barefoot, especially first thing in the morning. Unless you’re a masochist. (If you’re a triathlete, that’s probably debatable.)  
  • Check your shoes for excessive wear and tear. All of your shoes. (We see you and your closet.) If they’re worn out, choose a pair that’s more supportive. 
  • Back off activity and intensity, and ice the area. We know that’s your least favourite directive. 

Treatment

Treatment is largely dependent on what is found during your assessment; however, a combined approach is normally taken. Treatment may include:

  • Orthotics
  • Stretching programmes
  • Soft tissue treatment
  • Orthotics
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At Media City Physio we welcome the opportunity to treat you, regardless of your illness, which could be a result of a sport injury, accident at work, or anything else.