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Plantar fasciitis is a cause of heel pain. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, this ia a strong band of tissue that stretches from the heel (calcaneus) to the middle bones of the foot. It supports has a supportive and shock absorbtion function.

It is normally a self limiting condition resolving with time however treatmentcan speed up recovery. Treatment may include Myofascial Correction, rest, good footwear, heel pads, painkillers, ice and exercises. A steroid injection or other treatments may be used in more severe cases.

What causes plantar fasciitis?

Repeated micro-injuries to the fascia (with or without inflammation) are thought to be the cause of plantar fasciitis. The injury is normally near to where the plantar fascia attaches to your heel bone.

Some of the cases of injuries of plantar fascia are:

  • Exercising on a different, often harder surface – for example, running on the road instead of a track.
  • Using shoes which have poor cushioning and/or poor arch supports.
  • Being overweight or a recent weight increase – this will put extra strain on your feet.
  • An overuse injury, increasing your training regime too quickly.
  • Sudden stretching of your sole. For example – poor technique starting ‘off the blocks’, etc.
  • If you have a tight Achilles tendon (the big tendon at the bottom of your calf muscles above your heel) and posterior leg kinetic chain, Calf, hamstrings etc . This can make you more likely to damage your plantar fascia.
  • Lots of walking, running, standing, etc, when you are not used to it or have previously had a more sedentary lifestyle.

The cause of plantar fasciitis is often insidious, particularly in older people. A common misconception is that the pain is due to a bony spur, coming from the heel bone (calcaneus). However any people have a bony heel spur but do not develop plantar fasciitis.

How common is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is very common. Approximately 1 out of 10 people will develop plantar fasciitis at some time during their lives. It is most common in people between the ages of 40 to 60 years, but it can occur at any age. It is twice as common in women as it is in men. It is also more frequent in sports persons and athletes.

What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?

Commonly pain is the main symptom. This can be anywhere on the underside of your foot but mainly in the heel area.   Normally, one spot is found as the primary source of pain. This is often about 4 cm forward from your heel, and is usually tender to touch.

The pain is commonly at it’s worst when taking your first steps on arising in the morning, or after long periods of rest where no weight is placed on your foot, for eg. after sitting for an extended period.  Gentle exercise may ease things a little as the day goes by. but, a long walk or weight bearing for a long time often makes the pain worse.  Resting your foot will usually ease the pain.

Sudden stretching of the sole of your foot may make the pain worse – for example, walking up stairs or on tiptoes, or standing on a branch with soft shoes on.  You may limp because of pain.  Occasionally people have plantar fasciitis in both feet at the same time.