Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of pain on the bottom of the heel. Approximately 2 million patients are treated for this condition every year. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the strong band
of tissue that supports the arch of your foot becomes irritated and inflamed. The plantar fascia is a long, thin ligament that lies directly beneath the skin on the bottom of your foot. It connects
the heel to the front of your foot, and supports the arch of your foot.
Plantar fasciitis is common in sports which involve running, dancing or jumping. Runners who overpronate where their feet roll in or flatten too much are particularly at risk the plantar fascia is
over stretched as the foot flattens. A common factor is tight calf muscles which lead to a prolonged or high velocity pronation or rolling in of the foot. This in turn produces repetitive
over-stretching of the plantar fascia leading to possible inflammation and thickening of the tendon. As the fascia thickens it looses flexibility and strength. Other causes include either a low arch
called pes planus or a very high arched foot known as pes cavus. Assessing the foot for plantar fasciitisExcessive walking in footwear which does not provide adequate arch support has been
attributed. Footwear for plantar fasciitis should be flat, lace-up and with good arch support and cushioning. Overweight individuals are more at risk of developing plantar fasciitis due to the excess
weight impacting on the foot.
Most patients with plantar fasciitis describe a sharp or stabbing pain on the bottom of the heel that is most severe when they first get up in the morning or after a period of resting. Some may feel
like the heel is bruised while others may describe tightness or even a pulling sensation on the heel or arch.
Your doctor will ask you about the kind of pain you're having, when it occurs and how long you've had it. If you have pain in your heel when you stand up for the first time in the morning, you may
have plantar fasciitis. Most people with plantar fasciitis say the pain is like a knife or a pin sticking into the bottom of the foot. After you've been standing for a while, the pain becomes more
like a dull ache. If you sit down for any length of time, the sharp pain will come back when you stand up again.
Non Surgical Treatment
About 90% of plantar fasciitis cases are self-limited and will improve within six months with conservative treatment and within a year regardless of treatment. Many treatments have been proposed for
the treatment of plantar fasciitis. First-line conservative approaches include rest, heat, ice, calf-strengthening exercises, techniques to stretch the calf muscles, achilles tendon, and plantar
fascia, weight reduction in the overweight or obese, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen. NSAIDs are commonly used to treat plantar fasciitis, but fail to
resolve the pain in 20% of people. Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) is an effective treatment modality for plantar fasciitis pain unresponsive to conservative nonsurgical measures for at least
three months. Corticosteroid injections are sometimes used for cases of plantar fasciitis refractory to more conservative measures. The injections may be an effective modality for short-term pain
relief up to one month, but studies failed to show effective pain relief after three months. Notable risks of corticosteroid injections for plantar fasciitis include plantar fascia rupture, skin
infection, nerve or muscle injury, or atrophy of the plantar fat pad. Custom orthotic devices have been demonstrated as an effective method to reduce plantar fasciitis pain for up to 12 weeks. Night
splints for 1-3 months are used to relieve plantar fasciitis pain that has persisted for six months. The night splints are designed to position and maintain the ankle in a neutral position thereby
passively stretching the calf and plantar fascia overnight during sleep. Other treatment approaches may include supportive footwear, arch taping, and physical therapy.
Surgery is considered only after 12 months of aggressive nonsurgical treatment. Gastrocnemius recession. This is a surgical lengthening of the calf (gastrocnemius) muscles. Because tight calf muscles
place increased stress on the plantar fascia, this procedure is useful for patients who still have difficulty flexing their feet, despite a year of calf stretches. In gastrocnemius recession, one of
the two muscles that make up the calf is lengthened to increase the motion of the ankle. The procedure can be performed with a traditional, open incision or with a smaller incision and an endoscope,
an instrument that contains a small camera. Your doctor will discuss the procedure that best meets your needs. Complication rates for gastrocnemius recession are low, but can include nerve damage.
Plantar fascia release. If you have a normal range of ankle motion and continued heel pain, your doctor may recommend a partial release procedure. During surgery, the plantar fascia ligament is
partially cut to relieve tension in the tissue. If you have a large bone spur, it will be removed, as well. Although the surgery can be performed endoscopically, it is more difficult than with an
open incision. In addition, endoscopy has a higher risk of nerve damage.
The following exercises are commonly prescribed to patients with this condition. You should discuss the suitability of these exercises with your physiotherapist prior to beginning them. Generally,
they should be performed 2 - 3 times daily and only provided they do not cause or increase symptoms. Your physiotherapist can advise when it is appropriate to begin the initial exercises and
eventually progress to the intermediate and advanced exercises. As a general rule, addition of exercises or progression to more advanced exercises should take place provided there is no increase in
symptoms. Calf Stretch with Towel. Begin this stretch in long sitting with your leg to be stretched in front of you. Your knee and back should be straight and a towel or rigid band placed around your
foot as demonstrated. Using your foot, ankle and the towel, bring your toes towards your head until you feel a stretch in the back of your calf, Achilles tendon, plantar fascia or leg. Hold for 5
seconds and repeat 10 times at a mild to moderate stretch provided the exercise is pain free. Resistance Band Calf Strengthening. Begin this exercise with a resistance band around your foot as
demonstrated and your foot and ankle held up towards your head. Slowly move your foot and ankle down against the resistance band as far as possible and comfortable without pain, tightening your calf
muscle. Very slowly return back to the starting position. Repeat 10 - 20 times provided the exercise is pain free.