Plantar Fasciitis is so common, in fact, that it’s estimated 1 in 10 people will experience this condition during their lifetime. And while it tends to be most common in middle-aged people and women, adults of all ages deal with the pain and discomfort of Plantar Fasciitis. Fortunately, the right foot care from an expert Podiatrist can relieve the pain associated with Plantar Fasciitis and get you on the fastest road to recovery.
What Is the Plantar Fascia?
Hint: it's literally the spring in your step.
The Plantar Fascia is a piece of strong ligament that runs along the bottom of the foot, connecting to the heel bone to the toes and helping to create your foot’s distinctive arch. When you put weight on your foot, the arch lowers, stretching the Plantar Fascia, and as your foot pushes off the ground when walking, it shortens and springs back to propel your foot forward (we weren’t kidding when we said it was the spring in your step!).
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis is an injury to the Plantar Fascia. As the Plantar Fascia supports the entire weight of your body, during activities, or when extra weight is carried, the force through it can increase dramatically. It can easily become overloaded leading to inflammation, injury and pain.
What are the symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
In a nutshell: Heel pain. Heel pain. Heel pain.
Plantar Fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain in adults.
The first few steps after resting (either sleeping or sitting down) tend to be the most painful. Pain also occurs with prolonged standing. This pain typically feels as is if you stood on a small stone and bruised your heel. It’s common to feel continued burning, aching, and throbbing in the heel. Some people experience a stabbing pain.
What causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis occurs when overloading the Plantar Fascia causes it to become injured.
This common condition can be experienced by anyone, although the risk is increased by wearing certain shoes, as well as your underlying foot structure (think people with flat feet or high arches).
Many people with Plantar Fasciitis have a heel spur on their Xray. This is a small spike of bone sticking out from the heel bone. Although heer spurs are linked to Plantar Fasciitis, it is a common misconception that they cause heel pain.
There are three common scenarios during which load is increased on the Plantar Fascia, which can result in the development of Plantar Fasciitis.
A High Level Of Activity
Plantar Fasciitis often affects people who are extremely active and spend a lot of time on their feet. This includes people who work in jobs such as nursing, mothers of young children, as well as people who play a lot of sport or run regularly.
A Recent Increase In Activity
People who have suddenly increased their activity, are at risk of suddenly overloading their Plantar Fascia. We typically see this with clients who have recently returned to the gym, sports or running, after a break.
Carrying Extra Weight
Carrying extra weight increased the load on the Plantar Fascia. This includes pregnant women and mums carrying around children, people who lift heavy objects for work, as well as clients who have gained weight.
Will Plantar Fasciitis go away on its own?
Plantar Fasciitis may resolve on its own, but this usually takes around two years. However, for the majority of people, forgoing treatment will lead to increased pain that becomes more difficult to treat, resulting in a lower quality of life and negative state of mind. The constant pain can also restrict you from doing what you love and lead to increased weight gain, as even simple exercises can be painful. Fortunately, there are several simple and inexpensive treatment options that can relieve the pain and help your foot heal quicker.
What To Expect During Your Foot Faults Appointment
You don’t have to live with this sort of pain any longer. At Foot Faults our expert Podiatrists manage cases of Plantar Fasciitis every day. Our detailed examination and computer-aided assessment techniques help us not only diagnose Plantar Fasciitis, but also determine the underlying contributing factors that can then be targeted during treatment.
During your appointment, your Podiatrist will ask detailed information about your pain and typical activity load, assess the painful area of your foot, check the mobility of your foot muscles, test the Plantar Fascia under load and during different exercises, assess how the Plantar Fascia and foot muscles move, and examine the shoes you are wearing.
If applicable, your Podiatrist is also able to refer you for imaging, including X-ray, ultrasound, and MRI, to help confirm your diagnosis. All treatment options are thoroughly explained, including costs and benefits, and you will be involved in developing a personalised treatment plan that works for you and your lifestyle.
Treatments are even commenced during your initial appointment, which means you can leave with reduced pain, as well as a clear plan for treatment over upcoming weeks.
How is Plantar Fasciitis treated?
At Foot Faults, we typically use a combination of methods from three different treatment types to eradicate your pain and remedy your condition. These includes short term treatments to reduce inflammation and pain, as well as methods to reduce load, and strengthen your foot, which not only treat the Plantar Fasciitis, but aim to prevent it coming back.
For mild cases, treatment can take as little as four weeks. For the majority of clients, it takes an average of 6-12 weeks to be pain free and resume normal activities.
Short Term Treatments
Short-term treatments aim to reduce inflammation, increase mobility, and promote healing. These methods help to reduce pain and recovery time and are best used alongside simple pain relief medication, such as Paracetamol and Ibuprofen. For long-term relief, these techniques must be combined with load reduction and strengthening strategies.
Short-term methods include:
For further information about any of these methods, plus links to useful videos and resources, click on the treatment or scroll to the bottom of this page.
Reducing load is the most important part of Plantar Fasciitis treatment. It is used in the short term to quickly and effectively reduce pain and get you active again. It also prevents the injury from getting worse. Long-term load reduction strategies, such as orthotics, are used along with strengthening and graduated activity to ensure prolonged relief.
Treatments that reduce load include:
Strengthening the Foot
Once we have implemented strategies to reduce load, treatment is focused on strengthening the muscles around the Plantar Fascia, which increases its ability to tolerate load. This involves exercises to gradually strengthen the foot and an activity program to ensure a controlled return to your normal activities. This long-term rehabilitation is aimed at preventing Plantar Fasciitis from coming back.
Treatments that strengthen the foot
What Is the Best Treatment for Me?
If you are suffering from Plantar Fasciitis, it’s likely you will need a combination of treatments to relieve your pain and keep you on your feet. The best treatments options depend on a number of factors, including your age, activities, job, weight and the severity of your injury.
Ready to start living pain-free? Book your appointment today.
Plantar Fasciitis Treatments
Short Term Treatments
Icing is a great way to help relieve pain caused by Plantar Fasciitis. We recommend rolling a frozen coke bottle under the foot 10-15 minutes at the end of every day.
This increases mobility in the foot muscles prior to standing, which helps to reduce pain. You can use a towel to gently stretch your toes back toward the body or make small circles with the foot.
Plantar Fasciitis often leads to tightness in the foot muscles, which can contribute to increased pain. Massaging can help to reduce tightness and increase your range of motion. You can easily massage your foot by rolling a tennis ball under the arch. You may also find relief by massaging the back of your legs (calves).
Tight muscles in the back of your legs (calves) can also aggravate Plantar Fasciitis. Tightness in the achilles tendon, which attaches your calf muscles to your heels, may also result in Plantar Fascia pain.
There are many forms of night splints, which all aim to help keep the foot stretched during the night so that pain is less severe when you take your first steps in the morning.
Steroid injections into the Plantar Fascia can be given under ultrasound guidance. They are sometimes used to reduce inflammation. The disadvantage is that these injections can be uncomfortable and may cause weakening of surrounding tissues, increasing the risk of further damage to the Plantar Fasciitis on return to activity.
Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy
This is a relatively new treatment that uses acoustic waves to help to promote healing in the Plantar Fascia. It can also reduce pain and improve mobility in the tissues.
Treatments to Reduce Load
Strapping (or taping) is the quickest way to relieve pain from Plantar Fasciitis. When sports tape is applied correctly, it acts like a sling, supporting your Plantar Fascia and preventing the arch from lowering, which is what causes the stretching and pain. At Foot Faults, we see a significant improvement in pain using taping. Strapping tape is available from most pharmacies.
Plantar Fasciitis Socks
These have become popular due to their ease of use and ability to give extra support with or without shoes. The socks work in the same way as strapping tape to support your arch. They can also give your skin a break from strapping or are a useful alternative if you are allergic to the tape. However, the support provided is not as effective as strapping tape.
Orthotics are inserts designed to be inserted into the shoe to help support the foot and align the ankle. Custom orthotics are a special type of orthotic designed specifically for your foot, so they are more effective at controlling your foot and reducing pain while the Plantar Fasciitis heals. If your pain has improved with strapping, there is a good chance that orthotics will be an effective long term solution for treating your Plantar Fasciitis.
They quickly and easily reduce load on the Plantar Fascia, and the main benefit is that you can ‘set and forget’. Unlike repeated, long-term strapping, orthotics save time and eliminate the need for help from someone else. They also do not cause irritation to the skin.
The shoes you wear when you have Plantar Fasciitis are crucial to your recovery. Wearing the wrong shoes can make your pain worse and slow down the recovery. They may also be the underlying cause of your Plantar Fasciitis.
The best shoes depends on your foot type, but as a general rule, they should be as supportive and cushioned as possible.
A moon boot (or walking boot) is a thickly padded boot with an plastic outer shell and rocker sole. It works by attaching to the leg and helping to reduce load on the foot and distribute it more evenly. This protects the Plantar Fascia while still allowing the person to stay on their feet. They are useful in severe cases or for clients unable to reduce their activity level. These are used best as a short-term solution, as they can be hot, uncomfortable, and cumbersome. They may also weaken the leg muscles if used for more than a few weeks.
A load management strategy is an essential part of the treatment plan for Plantar Fasciitis. This ensures an initial reduction in load and a gradual increase in load as the recovery begins.
Change or reduction in activities can be very important. We may switch a runner to a few sessions of deep water running to reduce load, or for other clients increase activity to help reduce load through weight loss. For those clients unable to avoid load at work, we may focus on reducing load in activities outside of work.
Reducing Weight Carried
Reducing the weight on the foot can have a dramatic effect on the pain from Plantar Fasciitis. This may include short-term changes, such as avoiding lifting heavy loads or children, as well as longer-term strategies that target weight loss.
Treatments to Strengthen the foot
Exercises are used to strengthen the small muscles in the feet, which support the Plantar Fascia. The aim is to increase the amount of load your feet can tolerate in the long term. These exercises need to be performed every day and the benefit can be seen after 6-8 weeks and for as long as they are continued.
Graduated Activity Program
The most important long-term goal of Plantar Fasciitis treatment is returning to the activities you enjoy. In order to strengthen the small muscles in your feet and increase the Plantar Fascia’s ability to tolerate this load, it is important to increase activity gradually over a extended period of time.