The plantar fascia that connects your heel to the front of your foot is designed to absorb high stress and pain but too much pressure damages the tissue, causing it to become irritated and inflamed – resulting in heel pain.
Some common symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:
- Pain on the bottom of the heel
- Pain in the arch of the foot
- Increased pain after exercising
- Pain that is worse in the morning or after sitting for a long time
- A swollen heel
- A tight feeling in the Achilles tendon
Some common causes of plantar fasciitis include:
Plantar fasciitis is common in athletes and people who spend a lot of time walking or standing on hard surfaces, which can strain the arch of the foot.
Having flat feet, high arches and tight calf muscles are some factors that put extra stress on the fascia, resulting in plantar fasciitis.
Wearing shoes that do not fit or provide enough cushioning and support can also cause heel pain.
Other factors that put you more at risk include:
- Exercising without stretching your calves
- Having jobs that require long periods of standing
Your orthopaedic specialist will start off by asking about your medical history, followed by a physical examination to check your foot and ankle. The diagnosis can usually be made clinically, although you may sometimes be required to undergo an X-ray, MRI scan or bone scan to rule out other causes of heel pain, such as a stress injury or arthritis.
Most plantar fasciitis cases are treated non-surgically. The mainstay of treatment includes topical or oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy, where stretching of the plantar fascia (arch of the foot) or Achilles’ tendon (heel cord) is taught. Assistive devices such as silicone heel cups or wedges to cushion the heel and wearing a night splint to stretch the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia as you sleep, are also recommended. If the pain persists, shockwave therapy can be used to stimulate healing in the inflamed plantar fascia. However, if there is significant pain and swelling, a steroid injection can rapidly reduce the inflammation around the plantar fascia.
If conservative treatments prove to be ineffective after 6 months, your orthopaedic specialist may recommend surgery. This can usually be done through minimally invasive approaches, and involves radiofrequency ablation of the painful scar tissue, and/or partial plantar fascia release.
Every case is different; hence it is best to consult an orthopaedic specialist for an accurate diagnosis so that you can obtain the best treatment option that is most suitable for you. Reach out to us today if you suspect you are suffering from plantar fasciitis and let us help you enjoy a better quality of life.