Plantar fasciitis: Inflammation of the plantar fascia, the bowstring-like tissue that stretches from the heel bone to the base of the toes. Plantar fasciitis can be due to calcaneal spurs, which
typically cause localized tenderness and pain that is made worse by stepping down on the heel. Plantar fasciitis may be related to physical activity overload, abnormal foot mechanics, or may be due
to underlying diseases that cause arthritis, such as Reiter disease, ankylosing spondylitis, and diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis. Treatment is designed to decrease inflammation and avoid
reinjury. Icing reduces pain and inflammation. Anti-inflammatory agents, such as ibuprofen and injections of cortisone, can help. Infrequently, surgery is done on chronically inflamed spurs. A
donut-shaped shoe insert can take pressure off a calcaneal spur and lessen plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is usually not the result of a single event but more commonly the result of a history of repetitive micro trauma combined with a biomechanical deficiency of the foot. Arthritic
changes and metabolic factors may also playa part in this injury but are unlikely in a young athletic population. The final cause of plantar fasciitis is "training errors." In all likelihood the
injury is the result of a combination of biomechanical deficiencies and training errors. Training errors are responsible for up to 60% of all athletic injuries (Ambrosius 1992). The most frequent
training error seen with plantar fasciitis is a rapid increase in volume (miles or time run) or intensity (pace and/or decreased recovery). Training on improper surfaces, a highly crowned road,
excessive track work in spiked shoes, plyometrics on hard runways or steep hill running, can compromise the plantar fascia past elastic limits. A final training error seen in athletics is with a
rapid return to some preconceived fitness level. Remembering what one did "last season" while forgetting the necessity of preparatory work is part of the recipe for injury. Metabolic and arthritic
changes are a less likely cause of plantar fasciitis among athletes. Bilateral foot pain may indicate a metabolic or systemic problem. The definitive diagnosis in this case is done by a professional
with blood tests and possibly x-rays.
Plantar fasciitis and heel spur pain usually begins in the bottom of the heel, and frequently radiates into the arch. At times, however, the pain may be felt only in the arch. The pain is most
intense when first standing, after any period of rest. Most people with this problem experience their greatest pain in the morning, with the first few steps after sleeping. After several minutes of
walking, the pain usually becomes less intense and may disappear completely, only to return later with prolonged walking or standing. If a nerve is irritated due to the swollen plantar fascia, this
pain may radiate into the ankle. In the early stages of Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Spurs, the pain will usually subside quickly with getting off of the foot and resting. As the disease progresses, it
may take longer periods of time for the pain to subside.
Plantar fasciosis is confirmed if firm thumb pressure applied to the calcaneus when the foot is dorsiflexed elicits pain. Fascial pain along the plantar medial border of the fascia may also be
present. If findings are equivocal, demonstration of a heel spur on x-ray may support the diagnosis; however, absence does not rule out the diagnosis, and visible spurs are not generally the cause of
symptoms. Also, infrequently, calcaneal spurs appear ill defined on x-ray, exhibiting fluffy new bone formation, suggesting spondyloarthropathy (eg, ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis. If an
acute fascial tear is suspected, MRI is done.
Non Surgical Treatment
If you protect your injured plantar fascia appropriately the injured tissues will heal. Inflammed structures will settle when protected from additional damage, which can help you avoid long-standing
degenerative changes. Plantar fasciitis may take from several weeks (through to many months) to heal while we await Mother Nature to form and mature the new scar tissue, which takes at least six
weeks. During this time period you should be aiming to optimally remould your scar tissue to prevent a poorly formed scar that may become lumpy or potentially re-tear in the future. It is important
to lengthen and orientate your healing scar tissue via massage, gentle stretches, and light active exercises. In most cases, your physiotherapist will identify stiff joints within your foot and ankle
complex that they will need to loosen to help you avoid plantar fascia overstress.A sign that you may have a stiff ankle joint can be a limited range of ankle bend during a squat manoeuvre. Your
physiotherapist will guide you.
Most studies indicate that 95% of those afflicted with plantar fasciitis are able to relieve their heel pain with nonsurgical treatments. If you are one of the few people whose symptoms don't improve
with other treatments, your doctor may recommend plantar fascia release surgery. Plantar fascia release involves cutting part of the plantar fascia ligament in order to release the tension and
relieve the inflammation of the ligament. Overall, the success rate of surgical release is 70 to 90 percent in patients with plantar fasciitis. While the success rate is very high following surgery,
one should be aware that there is often a prolonged postoperative period of discomfort similar to the discomfort experienced prior to surgery. This pain usually will abate within 2-3 months. One
should always be sure to understand all the risks associated with any surgery they are considering.
You can help to prevent plantar fasciitis by maintaining a healthy weight, by warming up before participating in sports and by wearing shoes that support the arch and cushion the heel. In people who
are prone to episodes of plantar fasciitis, exercises that stretch the heel cord (known as the Achilles tendon) and the plantar fascia may help to prevent plantar fasciitis from returning. Ice
massage also can be used on the bottom of the foot after stressful athletic activities. It is possible that strict control of blood sugar will prevent plantar fasciitis in people with diabetes,
although this has not been proven.