Plantar fasciitis is defined as pain or achiness in the base of the heel. The condition is a common orthopedic issue since the plantar fascia is subjected to continuous wear and tear daily.
These ligaments function as shock absorbers to support the foot arch. Excessive pressure on the feet can impair or tear the ligaments. As a result, the plantar fascia is inflamed which leads to heel pain and rigidity.
What are the signs?
The chief complaint of those with plantar fasciitis is heel pain, usually at the base of the heel. Some experience discomfort at the base of the mid-foot region. The discomfort develops in a gradual manner over time.
In most cases, it only affects one foot but can affect both in some cases. The discomfort can be described as dull while others have sharp pain. Some experience burning or achiness on the base of the foot radiating outward from the heel.
The discomfort is worse in the morning upon moving out of bed or after being seated or lying down for some time. Climbing stairs can be hard due to the rigidity of the heel.
After engaging in prolonged activities, the discomfort might flare up due to the increased inflammation.
Management of plantar fasciitis
A vital part of treatment is to reduce the inflammation in the plantar fascia ligament, but this will not deal with the underlying damage to the ligament.
The primary treatment is to allow the foot to rest and apply an ice pack for 15-20 minutes at 3-4 times throughout the day to lessen the swelling. It is also suggested to reduce or change the exercise routine. The use of arch supports in the shoes worn and performing stretching exercises can also help reduce the pain.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often given to lessen the inflammation in the ligament.
In case the home remedies and over-the-counter drugs fail to reduce the pain, a corticosteroid shot is given directly into the ligament.
Physical therapy is also a component of care for plantar fasciitis. It can stretch the plantar fascia as well as the Achilles tendons.
In some cases, extracorporeal shock wave therapy is suggested where sound waves are used to stimulate healing of the ligament. Surgery is usually the last option. This is only carried out if the pain is severe.
Brace and support
Splints worn at night can also help stretch the calf and foot arch. It holds the foot in a flexed position and lengthens the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon overnight.
Special orthotics for shoes can also lessen some of the discomfort by distributing the pressure and preventing further damage to the fascia.