Plantar Fasciitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Plantar Fasciitis

Introduction

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most frequently occurring orthopedic problems.

Plantar fasciitis causes sharp pain in the heel that occurs with the first step in the morning. With movement, the pain normally decreases but it returns after a long period of standing or when you stand up suddenly after sitting for a long time.

Exercises and stretches can help to reduce the pain of plantar fasciitis by improving muscle strength, reducing pain, and promoting flexibility in the foot ligaments and muscles.

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

A web-like thick ligament that connects the digit of the foot to the heel is known as Plantar fascia. The plantar fascia supports the arch of the feet and acts as a shock absorber and helps you to walk. Plantar fasciitis causes pain in this plantar fascia.

Plantar fascia experiences a lot of pressures and tears in our daily life. Too much pressure on the feet can tear or damage this ligament. The damaged plantar fascia becomes inflamed, and this inflammation causes stiffness and pain to the heel. The sharp pain sensation in the plantar fascia of the heel is plantar fasciitis.

Causes of Plantar Fasciitis

The main cause of plantar fasciitis is not really clear. Plantar fasciitis is common inactive men and women between the ages of 40 and 70. Women face this problem way more than men. Even during late pregnancy women experience plantar fasciitis.

Overweight or obese people have a greater risk of developing plantar fasciitis. A person who has a job that involves being on the feet often (working in a factory or a restaurant server) or a long-distance runner has a higher risk of developing this problem.

People with structural foot problems like very flat feet or high arches may develop plantar fasciitis. Even shoes with a soft sole and poor arch support or worn-out shoes with thin soles can result in plantar fasciitis.

Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis causes sharp pain in the heel of the foot. The pain is usually the worst when you take your first step in the morning after awakening. Plantar fasciitis tends to feel better with activity but the pain can also be triggered when you get up after sitting or after long periods of standing.

Diagnosing Plantar Fasciitis

To diagnose plantar fasciitis, your doctor will ask you to have imaging tests.

  • X-ray to check if you have arthritis or any bone fracture.
  • MRI to check for any fracture.

Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis

Taking rest, icing, using braces and anti-inflammatory medicines are some home treatments for plantar fasciitis. A corticosteroid injection into the damaged section of the foot ligament may help.

Therapy is an important part of treatment for this condition. Therapy can help you to stretch the Achilles tendons and plantar fascia.

Plantar Fasciitis Exercises

Gently stretching the plantar fascia muscle helps to lose the muscles and reduce the pain of plantar fasciitis. Stop while exercising and stretch a little to keep the pain from returning. Don’t forget to stretch before starting your exercise.

To give your plantar fascia a certain time to heal, take a little time off from certain workouts like running. You can go for low impact workouts like swimming, it will let you exercise without causing heel pain.

You can perform stretches for plantar fasciitis two or three times every day.

1. Calf Stretching

Tightening the feet and calf muscles for a long time can make the plantar fasciitis pain worse. Loosening the plantar fascia muscle can relieve the pain.

  • First, stand against a wall and lean your hands on it.
  • Keep the knee of the affected leg straight and bend the other knee.
  • Keep both the feet flat.
  • For 10 seconds hold.
  • Repeat it three times

2. Rolling Stretch

Place a round object under the foot and roll back and forth. People often use a rolling pin, ball or a foam roller for this.

  • Sit on a chair.
  • Take a round object under your foot
  • Roll it for 2-3 minutes.

3. Stretching your Plantar Fascia

Try the following stretching to relax the plantar fascia muscle.

  • Sit on a chair.
  • Cross your injured heel over your other leg.
  • Hold your injured foot and pull the toes towards the shin.
  • Place your hand on the bottom of the foot and you will feel the tension in the plantar fascia.
  • Hold it for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat the entire process three times.

4. Flex Your Foot

To increase blood flow to the calves flex your foot. Buy an elastic stretch band from a sports store.

  • Sit on the floor.
  • Straight your legs
  • Wrap the elastic stretch band around your injured foot and hold the ends of the band in your hand.
  • Gently push the toes away from your body.
  • Slowly return to normal
  • Repeat it 10 times.

Home Remedies For Plantar Fasciitis

There are a few home remedies that can help to reduce the pain of plantar fasciitis. These home remedies can give you temporary relief but do not address the underlying cause of the pain.

1. The RICE Method

When the pain appears for the first time, keep off your injured foot and go for the RICE method.

  • Rest your injured foot for a few days.
  • Ice your feet for at least 20 minutes.
  • Compress the injured area with a soft wrap.
  • Elevate your foot by putting it on a few pillows.

2. Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Some Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID) like aspirin, ibuprofen help ease both pain and inflammation. Take this medicine as directed by your doctor.

3. Use of Shoe Inserts

Generally, shoe inserts give additional support to the foot arch. Soft shoe inserts will reduce stress on the plantar fascia and provide temporary relief.

4. Use Plantar Fasciitis Shoes

Sometimes doctors prescribe orthopedic shoes to treat this condition. These shoes provide support to the foot arch and can absorb shock from walking or running. Thus the plantar fascia muscle becomes relaxed.

Essential Oil Treatment For Plantar Fasciitis

Massaging your injured foot with essential oil may provide temporary relaxation. Before using essential oil for massage, dilute it with coconut oil. You can try the following essential oils.

  • Lavender essential oil
  • Peppermint essential oil
  • Eucalyptus essential oil
  • Rose essential oil

Plantar Fasciitis Surgery

A plantar fascia surgery lengthens the calf muscle to release stress on the foot arch. In this surgery, the plantar fascia gets partially detached from the heel bone. This can reduce the tension but can weaken the foot arch.

But this surgery can damage the nerve and cause chronic pain. So you should consider surgery only after trying other treatment options.

Prevention of Plantar Fasciitis

To avoid plantar fasciitis, you can make a few lifestyle changes.

Start wearing a shoe with good arch support, and remember to replace athletic footwear regularly. Avoid overworking the plantar fascia muscle. Include low-impact workouts like swimming or bicycling into your routine.

Try to lose weight if you are overweight, that will reduce pressure on your plantar fascia muscle.

Plantar Fasciitis And Heel Spurs

Just like plantar fasciitis, a heel spur can develop from long-term stress on the foot.

A heel spur is a bony protrusion on the underside of the heel, caused by excess calcium deposition.

The main cause of the heel spur is still unknown. But it shares almost the same causes as plantar fasciitis.

  • Unsupported shoes.
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Arthritis
  • Excessive pressure on feet

To reduce any symptoms of heel spurs, take rest, use pain medication and ice or oil massage.

Plantar Fasciitis in Children

Wearing old or unsupportive shoes or overusing the plantar fascia muscle is the main cause of plantar fasciitis in children. Usually, the condition gets worse with time, contact a doctor for proper treatment as soon as possible.

Massage your child’s feet with oil to reduce irritation.  Make sure that your child is taking enough rest and avoiding jumping, running and standing for a long time until their heel is properly healed.

Diet For Plantar Fasciitis Patient

Eating a balanced diet can help you lose weight and reduce heel pain. A balanced diet is always better than taking supplements. Always consult your doctor before taking any supplements. Some foods help to heal and repair the tissues quickly.

  • Vitamin C containing fruits like oranges, lemons, apple, kiwi, guava and many more.
  • Zinc contains foods such as meat, nuts, dairy, eggs, whole grains, etc.
  • Foods like asparagus, sauerkraut, kimchi and others that contain bromelain.

Things To Avoid During Plantar Fasciitis

There are certain things you should avoid if you are suffering from plantar fasciitis.

  • Avoid taking any ibuprofen for the first 48 hours.
  • Remember not to walk or stand for long periods.
  • Try not to wear any tight and pointy shoes or high heels.
  • Try not to wear backless slippers or flip-flops.
  • Do not walk on hard surfaces barefoot.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Plantar Fasciitis

1. What is the plantar fascia?

Ans: The plantar fascia is a thick ligament that connects the toes to the heel.

2. What is the best treatment for plantar fasciitis?

Ans: Some Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, some stretching exercises, and plantar fasciitis shoes are some treatment for plantar fasciitis.

3. Is walking good for plantar fasciitis?

Ans: Wear supportive shoes or use soft shoe inserts while walking if you have plantar fasciitis.

4. Can a foot massage help plantar fasciitis?

Ans: Yes. massaging your injured foot with essential oil can give you relief temporarily.

5. How do I know if I have plantar fasciitis or heel spur?

Ans: Go for an X-ray imaging or an MRI. if you have a bony protrusion on your heel then its heel spur.

6. How do I permanently get rid of plantar fasciitis?

Ans: Physical therapy for a certain time can cure plantar fasciitis. Stretch your plantar fascia muscle often, and go for low impact exercises.

Conclusion

Usually, most people do not need surgery to ease plantar fasciitis pain. The condition improves through home treatments, physical therapy, and exercise.

But plantar fasciitis becomes a chronic condition for some people. Sometimes the pain remains constant for more than a year. Contact an orthopedic if your pain remains for more than a month.

We tried to tell you everything we know about plantar fasciitis. Did you find everything you need? Do tell us in the comment section below.

Dr. Pritpal Singh
Dr. Pritpal Singh is amongst the best doctors in Kolkata who is specialized in Nutrition. Dr. Pritpal Singh practices at Addlife Caring Minds Clinic in Sarat Bose Road, Kolkata. A highly trained & specialist doctor who has completed MBBS, and has experience over 6 years as a practicing doctor in Nutrition.

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