Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of a thick, fibrous ligament in the arch of the foot called the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia attaches into the heel bone and fans out toward the ball of the foot, attaching into the base of the toes. If this ligament is stretched excessively it will become inflamed and begin to cause pain. In severe instances the ligament can rupture resulting in immediate severe pain. If the ligament ruptures the pain is so great that the patient can not place weight on the foot. Should this happen, the foot should be elevated and an ice pack applied. An appointment with your foot doctor should be made at your earliest convenience.
Conditions that affect the nervous system (brain and spinal cord) can also cause the arches to fall. Over time, the muscles gradually become stiffer and weaker and lose their flexibility. Conditions where this can occur include cerebral palsy, spina bifida and muscular dystrophy. Adult-acquired flat feet often affect women over 40 years of age. It often goes undiagnosed and develops when the tendon that supports the foot arch gradually stretches over time. It's not fully understood what causes the tendon to become stretched, but some experts believe that wearing high heels and standing or walking for long periods may play a part. Obesity, high blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes are all risk factors.
Repetitive exertive activity arch pain is usually sharp, and localized to a specific area, rather than the entire arch. Usually the pain occurs in the area just in front of the heel. It is present when first standing on the foot in the morning, but may decrease once you start walking around, but will, gradually becomes worse with continued walking or running. Swelling may be present. The pain subsides with rest, but stretching the arch while resting may cause the pain to return. Injury pain is constantly present, but worse when standing on the foot. This pain is localized to a specific area, but may radiate out from this area to the entire foot. The pain is sharp, and usually accompanied by swelling and occasionally "black and blue" discolorations. The pain due to the natural aging process is usually dull and aching, or stiff, and can be felt throughout the entire arch area, rather then in just one spot. This pain is present whenever weight bearing, and usually becomes worse with continued walking. The pain gradually subsides when resting, and usually does not return with stretching. Biomechanical defect pain is usually localized to a section of the arch, such as the inner, middle, outer, front, or back of the arch. This pain may be sharp or dull, but is always worse with continued walking.
Your doctor may order imaging tests to help make sure your heel pain is caused by plantar fasciitis and not another problem. X-rays provide clear images of bones. They are useful in ruling out other causes of heel pain, such as fractures or arthritis. Heel spurs can be seen on an x-ray. Other imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound, are not routinely used to diagnose plantar fasciitis. They are rarely ordered. An MRI scan may be used if the heel pain is not relieved by initial treatment methods.
Non Surgical Treatment
Arch pain can be treated with orthotics, inserts that have proper arch support to relieve the strain on the plantar fascia, mild stretching and anti-inflammatory medications. Orthotics will relieve most of the strain put onto the plantar fascia by supporting the band from underneath when pressure is applied. Tape can also be used in conjunction with orthotics to restrict movement and support the plantar fascia. Stretching should be used along with orthotics and continued long after the symptoms of arch pain are gone to prevent it from occurring again.
Patients with adult acquired flatfoot are advised to discuss thoroughly the benefits vs. risks of all surgical options. Most procedures have long-term recovery mandating that the correct procedure be utilized to give the best long-term benefit. Most flatfoot surgical procedures require six to twelve weeks of cast immobilization. Joint fusion procedures require eight weeks of non-weightbearing on the operated foot, meaning you will be on crutches for two months. The bottom line is: Make sure all of your non-surgical options have been covered before considering surgery. Your primary goals with any treatment are to eliminate pain and improve mobility. In many cases, with the properly designed foot orthosis or ankle brace, these goals can be achieved without surgical intervention.
Plantar Fasciitis stretches should always be gentle and pain free, if discomfort occurs with or after stretching decrease the intensity and duration of stretches. Stretches can usually be gradually progressed in intensity and duration over time according to individual tolerance. Plantar Fasciitis Stretch 1. Stretch for the right calf muscle (gastrocnemius) and the arch of the right foot (plantar fascia and muscles under the arches). Take your right heel close to the wall and ball of the foot upright against the wall. Move your hips forwards to the wall. Try to keep your right leg straight. Push down through your right heel to increase the stretch. Maintain for 30 seconds, repeat 2-3 times. Plantar Fasciitis Stretch 2. Stretch for the outside belly of the right calf muscle and the arch of the right foot. Take your right heel close to the wall. Turn the ball of your right foot outwards to 2 o?clock position upright against the wall. Move your hips forwards to the wall. Turn your trunk in the opposite direction (i.e. to the left). Try to keep your right leg straight. Push down through your right heel to increase the stretch. Maintain for 30 seconds, repeat 2-3 times. Plantar Fasciitis Stretch 3. Stretch for the inside belly of the right calf muscle and the arch of the right foot. Take your right heel close to the wall. Turn the ball of your right foot inwards to 10 o?clock position upright against the wall. Move your hips forwards to the wall. Turn your trunk in the opposite direction (i.e. to the right). Try to keep your right leg straight. Push down through your right heel to increase the stretch. Maintain for 30 seconds, repeat 2-3 times. Plantar Fasciitis Stretch 4. Stretch for the right achilles tendon and the arch of the right foot. Take your right heel close to the wall and ball of the foot upright against the wall (as for stretch 1). Move your hips forwards to the wall. Bend your right knee forwards into the wall keeping the ball of your foot upright against the wall. Push down through your right heel to increase the stretch. Maintain for 30 seconds, repeat 2-3 times.