Plantar Fasciitis may sound like a malady that afflicts gardeners, and while they may suffer from it too, it is actually a very painful condition affecting the foot. The Plantar Fascia is the thick tissue covering the sole of the foot, and in medical lingo, when itis is applied to a the name of a tissue it means it’s inflamed. Since this tissue forms the ligament connecting the heel bone to to the toes, and supports the arch of the foot, inflammation can make walking an ordeal.
What Brings on Plantar Fasciitis?
Although it is commonly thought to be brought on by over-exercising, the real culprits tend to be the physical idiosyncrasies like over pronation (walking with feet that roll in), flat feet, tight calves or Achilles tendons, or high arches. Any of these conditions can repeatedly strain the ligament and result in the small tears that cause Plantar Fasciitis. Obesity and ill-fitting shoes can also play a part.
Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms
Plantar fasciitis usually affects only one foot. The most common complaint is a stabbing pain in the heel, at its worst upon rising in the morning or after a long period of sitting. Typically, the pain and accompanying stiffness decrease after a few steps and lessen as the day goes on, often re-occurring after climbing stairs or standing for an extended period.
How is Plantar Fasciitis Diagnosed?
Although some doctors or podiatrists may take x-rays to rule out a stress fracture, the diagnosis is mainly clinical, meaning it is based on observation and questions. The doctor will examine the foot, observe how the patient walks, and take a history, including
- General health, including past injuries and illnesses
- Particulars of the symptoms, such as when and where the pain occurs
- Details and extent of typical physical activity
Initially, non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to decrease inflammation and pain, but the underlying cause must be treated. Plantar fasciitis responds well to a physical therapy regimen consisting of a set of exercises to stretch the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon, and another to strengthen the lower leg muscles responsible for stabilizing the heel and ankle. The therapist may also instruct the patient on how to tape the bottom of the foot.
In some cases orthotics may be prescribed to redistribute pressure on the bottom of the foot or a splint to be worn while sleeping to stretch the calf and foot arch.
One particularly effective night splint is the Alimed D2, which progresses from a gentle stretch in the initial phase and allows the patient to increase the strength as toleration increases. Another popular plantar fasciitis brace is the Hely & Weber PSO, lightweight and low profile, with buckle closures to easily adjust the foam-padded foot and calf straps.
Written by The Brace Shop
The Brace Shop is the fastest growing online orthopedic brace store in the USA. Since 1995, the Brace Shop has sold braces and other extremity products to millions of satisfied customers