Plantar Fasciitis Overview - Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Home Remedies
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
First, let’s try to understand what fascia is. Our foot contains a dense, fibrous band of tissue that runs from heel to toes. This is called fascia. Basically, these are the tissues that offer support to the muscles and arch of our foot. Plantar fasciitis is a medical condition that is caused by overly stretching these tissues, as a result of which tiny tears will be caused in their surface. Plantar fasciitis will be characterized by pain and inflammation.
How much do you know about this plantar fasciitis?
Before you answer, let’s quickly learn about plantar fasciitis in detail here. Just keep reading.
An Overview of Plantar Fasciitis
Above we said that plantar fasciitis will cause pain. But, where will you feel this pain?
Well, if you have plantar fasciitis, you will feel the pain in the bottom of your heel. Today, plantar fasciitis has become one of the most common widespread orthopedic complaints, especially in the middle age group people. Around two million are receiving treatment for this condition annually.
Why do you think this is so predominant? The explanation is relatively simple. Our plantar fascia ligaments encounter a lot of wear and tear in our everyday life. Generally, these fascia ligaments will act as your shock absorbers and provide support to the arch of the foot. However, if our foot is strained too much, it can cause our ligaments to tear. Thus, our plantar fascia will get inflamed and in turn, the inflammation will cause pain and stiffness.
Who are at High Risk of Getting Plantar Fasciitis?
Although everyone can get plantar fasciitis, some people are at high risk of getting it than others. For example, even though men can get it, plantar fasciitis is found to be more common in women. Likewise, you are more likely to get plantar fasciitis if:
- Your feet bend too much inward when you walk
- You have flat feet
- You have a high arch
- You stand, walk, or run for a longer duration, especially on the harder surfaces
- You are obese
- You use shoes that don’t fit you properly
- You use worn out shoes
- You have tighter calf muscles or Achilles’ tendons
- You often wear high-heeled footwear
- You have an unusual walk and/or foot position
- You are between ages 40 and 60
You do exercises that put a lot of stress on your heel and the fascia tissues, such as long-distance running, jumping, ballet or aerobic dancing, and so on.
Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms
As mentioned above, people with plantar fasciitis will generally complain of pain at the bottom of their heels. However, some people will even experience pain at the bottom of the mid-foot area. Generally, this pain will gradually develop with time. Some patients with plantar fasciitis would describe this pain as dull, whereas some patients would describe this as sharp pain. In some other people, there will be burning sensation or ache that extends from the bottom of the foot till the heel.
In most cases, the pain associated with plantar fasciitis will be worse in the mornings when you first step out from your bed. You can also see the pain is severe after sitting or lying down for a long time. You may not be able to climb stairs due to heel stiffness.
Moreover, patients with plantar fasciitis will see that their pain getting flared up for prolonged activities. You could just see that the pain is not present during the activities, but you can feel it just after stopping them.
If you have the above symptoms, you might probably be experiencing plantar fasciitis.
Some people may experience this foot pain during night times. Note that it may not be due to plantar fasciitis, but due to a different problem like arthritis or tarsal tunnel syndrome. To get a clear diagnosis, you are advised to speak to your physician.
Plantar Fasciitis Diagnosis
Your physician will do a physical examination during which he/she will check for tenderness in the foot. During this examination, he/she will also try to figure out the actual location of the pain in order to confirm that it’s not due to any other foot problem. Your physician might ask you to flex the foot as they push on your plantar fascia to check if the pain worsens as you flex. They will also check if you have redness or swelling.
During the diagnosis, your physician will evaluate the following elements:
- Muscle tone
- Sense of touch
- Sense of sight
Apart from these, you may also have to take an X-ray or MRI to confirm that your heel pain is not due to any other condition, such as a bone fracture.
What Can You do After Diagnosis?
With plantar fasciitis, there is no single treatment that works best for all patients. However, there are several things you can do to help your foot to feel better. Read below to know more:
Plantar Fasciitis Braces and Supports
Using plantar fasciitis night splints is one of the best ways to help relieve pain and stiffness. These can help stretch the calf and the arch of the foot and will hold your foot in a flexed position. Thus, the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon will be lengthened overnight, thereby preventing your morning pain and stiffness.
Alternately, arch supports for your shoes can help alleviate some of your pain by transmitting pressure. This way, they can help prevent further damage to your plantar fascia.
Home remedies for Plantar Fasciitis
Home remedies for plantar fasciitis include staying off your feet and putting on ice for at least 15 to 20 minutes, 3 to 4 times per day. This will help reduce swelling. You can also use hot and cold compression therapy for better results.
Besides these, you are also advised to change or reduce your exercise activities.
NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help decrease inflammation in your ligaments. If the above-mentioned self-treatment methods and over-the-counter medications don’t work for you, a corticosteroid injection directly administered into the damaged area of the ligament can help.