The plantar fascia is a thick band of connective tissue, located along the bottom of the foot, that runs from the heel and connects to the base of the toes. The fascia functions as a cushion to support the arch of the foot.
When tension begins to build up on the fascia from overexertion, small tears develop on the chord of tissue resulting in irritation that causes inflammation and pain known as plantar fasciitis. This type of injury is commonly felt on the heel or arch of the foot and the pain can often be described as a sharp, stabbing sensation or a deep aching or throbbing.
Various factors are known to contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis depending on the individual’s lifestyle. As an athlete, especially a runner, overworking the fascia by participating in sports with a high impact rate to the bottom of the feet can increase the likelihood of developing this type of injury. Improperly fitting shoes, wearing flip-flops, or going barefoot all while walking or standing on hard surfaces for extended periods of time can also damage the fascia. Being overweight and poor foot structure, such as flat foot or a high arch, have also been associated with plantar fasciitis.
Treating Plantar Fasciitis
While prevention is the best option for avoiding any type of injury, there are several treatment options available once you’ve suffered a fascia injury and each may offer alternate results for every individual. A combination of different methods can prove effective to achieving the natural health of your foot.
Stretching the lower legs, calves, ankles, and feet on a daily basis is essential to rehabilitate injury to the fascia. Also, keep in mind to always stretch both feet equally regardless if only one foot has been affected. Ice therapy, as with other injuries, helps with the common symptom of inflammation due to plantar fasciitis and keeping consistent with the treatment offers the best results. A pair of new shoes or adding insoles can give your foot the correct support needed to function as a shock absorber during high intensity exercises. A chiropractor or physical therapist working in conjunction with a podiatrist can diagnose and determine the appropriate massage therapy depending on the grade of the injury and symptoms. And finally, plenty of rest is recommended to achieve overall wellness and quicken the rehabilitation process for your plantar fasciitis and its symptoms.
The symptoms of foot pain can often be confused with Morton’s neuroma, a painful condition that affects the feet, due to a thickening of the nerve tissue, usually between the third and fourth toes. Symptoms for Morton’s neuroma include inflammation and restricted mobility, followed by pain on the forefoot. Lifestyle changes may be required for treatment of this condition such as modifying daily activities or wearing wide fitting shoes. Ice therapy may also be used to reduce the inflammation on the affected foot caused by this impairing condition.
By Dr. Alex Jimenez