Have you ever woken up in the morning and as soon as you put weight down on your foot, you feel the most excruciating pain in your heel or arch of the foot? Does the same thing happen when you get up after sitting for a while? You may have plantar fasciitis.
What is the plantar fascia?
The plantar fascia is a flat band of thick tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot from the heel bone to our toes and it supports the arch of the foot. Plantar fasciitis is when the fascia becomes inflamed or irritated. This can happen with repetitive overloading of the tissue at its attachment on the heel, causing changes to the integrity of the fascia making it inflamed and begin to deteriorate.
Common signs & symptoms
Some common symptoms include pain and stiffness, or an ache or burning sensation in the heel, most commonly during the first steps in the morning or after periods of inactivity. This typically happens because at rest, the foot is relaxed and the body will begin laying down new tissue over the irritated fascia. Once we step down and put tension through the fascia, the fragile tissue that was recently laid down will rip, causing significant pain. There can also be pain after periods of intense activity, due to overloading of the plantar fascia. Predisposing factors include poor footwear, foot arch problems, sudden weight gain, intense physical activity, and decreased lower extremity flexibility.
How is plantar fasciitis treated?
Plantar fasciitis responds well to conservative treatment approaches including rest, ice, proper footwear and a stretching and strengthening program. Some home remedies may prove to be successful such as calf and/or plantar fascia stretching, as well as rolling a tennis ball or golf ball underneath the foot. A physiotherapist can also do hands on manual therapy on your heel and foot to increase mobility, as well as apply modalities, such as ultrasound or interferential current, for pain. Applying a taping at the arch of the foot or using an orthotic device can be beneficial in off-loading the plantar fascia and can provide some symptomatic relief. Addressing the cause of the problem and receiving the appropriate treatment will help you get rid of that annoying pain in the arch.