Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of chronic heel or foot pain. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, approximately 2 million plantar fasciitis cases are diagnosed and treated each year. An estimated one in 10 people will develop plantar fasciitis at some point during their lifetimes. Moreover, plantar fasciitis accounts for between 11 and 15 percent of all foot symptoms, as demonstrated by research studies associated with the health issue. Most heel symptoms are caused by plantar fasciitis or the inflammation of the tissue on the bottom of the foot.
What are the Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a foot health issue characterized by sharp, stabbing heel pain which generally manifests when a person gets out of bed in the morning or stands up after sitting for an extended period of time. Although the most frequent symptom of plantar fasciitis is shooting pain, the health issue may also cause swelling and inflammation in the heel. The pain from plantar fasciitis can be considerably severe after rest but it can generally improve significantly throughout the day. Additionally, the painful symptoms associated with plantar fasciitis may worsen after exercise or physical activity.
The plantar fascia is a dense band of connective tissue found on the base of the foot which connects the heel to the front of the foot. This group of connective tissue supports the arch of the foot by functioning like a bowstring on a bow. The plantar fascia absorbs any type of stress and pressure being placed on the toes. Over time, however, a person may experience an injury or develop an underlying condition which may create inflammation of the fascia in the heel bone, resulting in plantar fasciitis, a chronic and persistent health issue. People can almost never fully rest their foot enough to heal completely.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia becomes tightened from too much stress and pressure, causing swelling and inflammation. As increasing tension builds up in the plantar fascia, tiny tears can begin to form in the dense band of connective tissue. Furthermore, more tension and ripping in the plantar fascia results in more swelling and/or inflammation. This buildup of tension and ripping ultimately causes plantar fasciitis and results in heel and foot pain.
Men and women between the ages of 40 and 70 have a higher risk of developing plantar fasciitis. However, the health issue is slightly more prevalent among women than men. In addition, there’s a higher incidence of plantar fasciitis among athletes, especially runners, and it is sometimes referred to as “runner’s heel.” A 2002 research study demonstrated that 7.8 percent of sports injuries was plantar fasciitis. Also, the health issue ranked among the five most common sports injuries.
What Other Health Issues Cause Heel Pain?
Plantar fasciitis is the most well-known cause of heel and foot pain. There are several less well-known causes of heel pain which should be ruled out before starting treatment for plantar fasciitis. Among these causes of heel and foot pain are:
- Bursitis: Bursas are fluid-filled sacs which cushion bones, muscles, and other soft tissues around joints in the human body. These can be found in the shoulders, elbows, and buttocks, as well as in the heel of the foot. Bursas in the feet can become irritated and inflamed due to excessive walking, running, or jumping.
- Calcaneal Apophysitis: The growth plate, or epiphyseal plate, in the heel can also become irritated and inflamed. The health issue, also known as Sever’s disease, generally occurs in children during growth spurts.
- Inflammatory Diseases: People with hereditary inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Reiter’s syndrome, and gout, may experience heel pain.
- Lateral Plantar Nerve Entrapment: Nerves located along the central region of the arch of the foot may become compressed or impinged between tissue and bone, leading to pain around the heel and ankle region of the foot.
- Plantar Fascia Rupture: In rare cases, the plantar fascia may also rupture. This extremely debilitating injury generally occurs during high-impact exercise or physical activity, although some of the risk factors for plantar fasciitis, such as flat feet and obesity, can contribute to its occurrence. It also occurs in patients that have chronic plantar fasciitis.
- Sciatica: An injury or underlying condition can compress or impinge the sciatic nerve, or the largest and longest nerve in the human body, causing low back pain and painful symptoms along the lower extremities. The pain may be felt in the foot, but it may be a tingling sensation or numbness in relation to the pain associated with plantar fasciitis.
- Stress Fracture: A hairline fracture may develop in the heel bone, also referred to as the calcaneus. It’s generally caused by overuse or due to an injury where the heel is crushed under the weight of the human body, such as a fall. Calcaneal stress fractures are uncommon and account for approximately 2 percent of all fractures in adults.
- Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome: The tarsal tunnel is a region within the ankle containing tendons, ligaments, arteries, and nerves. One of these soft tissues is the tibial nerve, which allows movement and provides feeling to the foot. Tarsal tunnel syndrome refers to the compression or impingement of the tibial nerve, caused by an ankle sprain, inflammatory disease, and flat or fallen arches. The common symptoms include a tingling sensation around the heel.
How Is Plantar Fasciitis Diagnosed?
Heel pain is the most common symptom associated with plantar fasciitis and it is often an unmistakable indication of the presence of the health issue. If the heel pain doesn’t improve after a few weeks, it’s recommended for you to make an appointment with a specialized healthcare professional, such as a podiatrist. A podiatrist will talk to you about your symptoms and evaluate your foot to rule out other conditions which can cause heel pain. Your podiatrist may also order an X-ray or alternative tests to make sure there’s not a fracture in your foot or anything else that’s causing your heel pain.
Heel spurs, or small, pointed overgrowths on the heel bone or the calcaneus bone, may occasionally be seen on X-rays. However, heel spurs aren’t necessarily regarded as the cause of the pain in plantar fasciitis. As a matter of fact, they are often seen on X-rays of men and women who don’t have heel pain or plantar fasciitis and are therefore believed to be an incidental finding. One out of 10 people has heel spurs, but only 1 out of 20 individuals with heel spurs have foot pain and discomfort.
How Is Plantar Fasciitis Treated?
Most cases of plantar fasciitis may be treated with self-care, including rest and by applying ice therapy. Stretches and exercises can also help speed up the recovery process and help prevent other health issues and complications, such as tightness or weakness of other foot muscles. However, complete recovery may take several months.
Non-prescription and prescription drugs and/or medications can help decrease pain and swelling associated with plantar fasciitis. Orthotics, or shoe inserts which provide support and relieve stress and pressure on the foot, can also relieve pain.
Plantar fasciitis generally requires treatment to stop it from becoming worse. When untreated, plantar fasciitis can restrict your mobility. It can also cause back problems, hip and knee problems, and other foot problems because of the way it affects the way you walk. Chiropractic care and physical therapy can also help correct injuries and/or underlying conditions which may be causing or aggravating your plantar fasciitis. Surgery performed to treat plantar fasciitis, called a plantar fasciotomy, can lead to complications. After surgery, some support to the foot is lost, causing temporary instability.
Plantar fasciitis generally develops for no specific or clearly identifiable reason. However, a wide variety of risk factors can increase the chance of developing plantar fasciitis, such as excess weight and obesity, foot abnormalities, arthritis, and even wearing the improper shoes. Low back pain and sciatica can cause painful symptoms anywhere along the entire length of the sciatic nerve, however, plantar fasciitis is generally direct heel or foot pain. Low back pain and sciatica, however, can cause plantar fasciitis if the person’s posture is affected, causing stress and pressure on the heel and foot. – Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C., C.C.S.T. Insight
Low Back Pain
The purpose of the article is to describe how plantar fasciitis can be associated with sciatica and other health issues. Sciatica is a collection of symptoms characterized by pain, tingling sensation, and numbness. The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal and nervous health issues as well as functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
Curated by Dr. Alex Jimenez
Additional Topic Discussion: Foot Orthotics
Low back pain and sciatica are common health issues which affect many individuals worldwide. However, did you know that chronic pain may be due to foot problems? Health issues originating in the foot may ultimately cause imbalances in the spine, such as poor posture, which can cause the well-known symptoms of low back pain and sciatica. Custom foot orthotics, individually designed with 3-arch support can help promote overall health and wellness by supporting and promoting good posture and correcting foot problems. Custom foot orthotics can ultimately help improve low back pain and sciatica.
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