Plantar fasiciitis is the most common foot pain condition treated by healthcare providers and is one of the most common foot pain conditions that runners report with about 1 out of every 10 adults developing plantar fasciitis during their lifetime. Also known as “pain in the heel” this condition is often ignored; it often seems easier to ignore the pain and blindly hope it takes care of itself. Sadly, this is the exact reason why so many people are trapped in a life of constant pain every time they take a step. If you’ve experienced recurring foot pain, consider the possibility of plantar fasciitis. Perhaps you’re wondering, “What is plantar fasciitis?” or, more importantly, “How do I know if I have it?”
WHAT IS PLANTAR FASCIITIS?
Pronounced, “PLAN-ter fash-ee-EYE-tus,” and as mentioned above is the most common foot pain condition reported in the literature. The arch of the foot is normally supported by a flat ligament known as the “plantar fascia.” This ligament connects your heel to your toes, creating the “arch” of your foot. When this ligament becomes strained, overworked or irritated, you could start developing heel pain or plantar fasciitis. Even putting a small amount of weight on your heel is often agonizing.
In recent studies a histological review from 50 cases was performed and found degenerative changes but no evidence of inflammation. This may explain why anti-inflammatory treatments (injections) have been found to be ineffective. Generally speaking, these injections are being avoided. In some cases there has been plantarfascia rupture with this treatment method especially after 2 injections.
This foot condition has several potential causes. Some of the most common include:
- Wearing tight or poorly fitting shoes (poor arch support)
- Standing, walking, or running on hard surfaces for long periods
- Abnormal foot traits (“high” arches or “flat” feet)
- Other leg or feet injuries (tight Achilles or injured calf muscles)
- Lack of big toe extension
Over time, these risk factors produce small tears in the plantar fascia ligament, compounding the damage and producing pain. If you fit any of these risk factors, plan to take one or both of these “Plantar Fasciitis Tests.” The sooner you are diagnosed, the sooner you can receive the treatment your feet so need.
PLANTAR FASCIITIS TESTS
First-Step Test: This home-based test is easy to perform; it offers a clear indication of whether you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis. Before you get out of bed the next morning, mentally prepare yourself for this simple test. As you stand up and take a step, what is the biggest sensation you experience? Perhaps you’re just a little stiff. However, if brutal pain is the first sensation you experience, you may have plantar fasciitis. If this pain seems to decrease slightly as you continue walking, mark yourself down as a plantar fasciitis sufferer.
Hot-Spot Test: The second plantar fasciitis test is slightly more precise. Prepare yourself by sitting in a comfortable chair and slipping your right leg over your left knee. (If it’s your left foot that’s troubling you, reverse this test and place you left foot over your right knee.) Using your thumb, gently began poking your general heel area. Press in several areas with firm, steady pressure. You’re looking for “hot-spots” of pain. When you find these spots, you’ll definitely know! For those with plantar fasciitis, this test is downright excruciating!
TREATMENT AND HEALING
After discovering that you have plantar fasciitis, quickly look into finding treatment. Ignoring plantar fasciitis leads to far greater pain and even long-term scar tissue when left untreated. Every MD that is trained as a foot specialist, podiatrist or physical therapist will agree that it’s far easier to treat plantar fasciitis if caught early.
Every foot is different; for this reason, one person’s treatment may not work well for someone else. Contrary to popular belief treating plantar fasciitis doesn’t always mean painful injections or traumatic surgeries. There are many noninvasive effective treatments available. Simple home remedies may also help relieve your pain and reduce your heel inflammation. Consider:
- Rest (staying off your feet)
- Toe, calf, and foot stretches
- New shoes (better foot support)
- Anti-inflammatory, pain-relievers (use in moderation!)
However, if your pain persists or worsens, always consult a doctor or head directly to your physical therapist! Many patients choose to visit their physical therapist first and avoid lengthy doctor appointments and messy referrals altogether. This allows them to enjoy treatment and relief much faster. With your physical therapist’s help, you can quickly develop an effective game-plan to not only treat your current pain but also avoid future reoccurrences.
Physical therapy is one of the best and simplest treatment options for plantar fasciitis. This noninvasive treatment uses simple stretches, ice, and elevation to reduce ligament inflammation and relax your foot. With time and consistency, this gentle therapy may completely eradicate your foot pain.
Although plantar fasciitis is extremely common, it’s also very treatable. If you’re living with chronic heel pain, invest in a good physical therapist and take the first step toward finding relief.