The plantar fascia is a strong, thick piece of connective tissue that joins the heel bone to the toes. Inflammation of this tissue is referred to as ‘plantar fasciitis’ and it can be quite painful and debilitating. It is the most common type of heel pain.
The pain associated with plantar fasciitis is usually worse in the morning and aggravated by standing and exercising. The pain the usually reduces after a bit of walking around but then returns on rest.
Common causes of plantar fasciitis include:
- Being flat footed or having high arches
- Sports that put stress on the heel, such as running
- Being overweight
- Spending a lot of time standing
- Wearing shoes with poor arch or heel support
- Gait (walking) abnormalities, such as foot pronation (rolling in) and weak calf muscles can also play a role.
Plantar fasciitis may present as dull or sharp pain and may also involve redness, swelling, aching, burning and/or tenderness of the affected foot. Sometimes, there is a bony outgrowth on the affected heel called a ‘spur’ which can add to the pain and discomfort.
Treatment options for plantar fasciitis may include:
- Rest from aggravating activities
- Muscle stretching (calf stretches)
- Ice and/or heat pack application
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Podiatry or physiotherapy referral– to discuss protective footwear, orthotic devices and foot exercises
- Strapping and night splints