What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Its often useful to start by breaking down the meaning of the anatomical phrase. Plantar means foot and fasciia means band. Thus, the plantat fasciia ligament is a band of tissue located in the foot, spanning the arch from heel to ball along the sole.

A healthy plantar fasciia is strong enough to support the arch and elastic enough to bear the impact of the spring in your walk. It should be able to flex within a narrow range of motion, if conditions are present that increase this range of motion beyond normal, then painful conditions can arise.

Risk Factors

Wearing improper, ill fitting footwear is one of the key causes of problems with this ligament. Shoes should always be chosen for providing good support and good fit, not merely for fashion.

Becoming overweight places undue strain on the feet, hence stresses the plantar fasciia ligament.

Whilst taking regular aerobic exercise is essential to good health. Extremes of high impact exercise can cause increased stress in this ligament leading to pain and loss of function. High and low impact exercise should been done in equal amounts.

Other factors that may be difficult or impossible to control include having a job that requires prolonged periods of standing, being born with an anatomical abnormality that affects gait, or normal ageing process that can lead to heel pad fat loss and reduced ligament laxity.

Symptoms

The pain is usually worst on standing particularly first thing in the morning, when you get up. It is a relatively common, usually occurring in the over 40’s age group. There are no visible features on the heel but a localised painful spot can be found in, and around, the middle of the sole of the heel.

Treatment

Treatment is aimed at minimising and reducing the pain in the first few weeks. It will not disappear quickly. Treatment must be individually designed, usually including strapping, NSAID’s , stretching exercises, ice therapy and sometimes night splints and injection therapies may be considered.