Plantar Fasciitis, often referred to as a “heel spur” is a common foot problem. It starts as a dull intermittent pain in the heel which may progress to a sharp persistent pain.
Plantar Fasciitis is usually worse in the morning with the first few steps, or after sitting for a period of time and then standing up. The pain normally goes away when you start walking but recurs after a period of rest.
If left untreated, Plantar Fasciitis can develop into severe pain that can stop you from weight bearing on your heel.
The Plantar Fascia is a broad band of fibrous tissue which runs along the bottom surface of the foot. It is attached to the heel bone (calcaneous) and fans forward toward the toes.
Plantar Fasciitis is caused by inflammation of the tissues connected to the heel bone due to excessive pulling and stretching of the fibrous bands that support the arch of the foot. Continuation of this irritation can lead to heel pain, arch pain or a bony growth on the bottom of the heel bone called a “heel spur”.
Causes of Heel Pain / Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar Fasciitis can occur when a person increases their levels of physical activity or when the heel’s fat pad becomes thinner, providing less protection to the foot.
It is also common from the time we reach our mid-late thirties when we start to lose some of the natural stretch in our tendons. Because the Plantar Fascia (which is a tendon type structure) runs under your arch, all your body weight rests on it whenever you stand. The combination of losing tendon stretch and years of walking makes Plantar Fasciitis a very common foot problem.
Other causes can include:
- Ill-fitting shoes
- Biomechanical problems (e.g. misalignment of the foot, including over-pronation)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Occupations which have constant heel strike (courier drivers getting out of a van or truck onto the same heel hundreds of times a day)
Other common components of a treatment plan for Plantar Fasciitis and Bursitis include:
- Cold presses or ice packs
- Anti-inflammatory tablets
- Massaging the foot
- Muscle strengthening
- Stretching exercises
Need to know more? Read about Plantar Fasciitis on our blog.
Prevention & treatment of heel pain:
Orthotics (special insoles) are the best treatment for this type of condition as they address the underlying biomechanical cause, and take strain off the injured structure so that it can heal. Orthotics are not arch supports. Orthotics address biomechanical function of the foot, while arch supports simply “pack” the arch. Arch supports may offer short term pain relief for heel pain but will lead to weakening of the foot structures in the long term.
Appropriate footwear is a key consideration in preventing heel pain; Foot Mechanics Podiatrists are experts in shoe recommendations.
The FS6 sleeve is a breakthrough technology in the treatment of Plantar Fasciitis. Find out more about FS6 on our YouTube Channel.