Plantar Fasciitis

plantar fasciitis

DEFINITION – What does Plantar Fasciitis mean?

Plantar fasciitis is localized inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament where it runs along the sole of the foot. The plantar fascia is the largest ligament in the human body. It resembles a bowstring, stretched taut under the plantar region (sole) of the foot.

Plantar fasciitis is normally the result of repetitive strain, affecting people who run or walk often or over long distances without the proper footwear. Less frequently, plantar fasciitis can be caused by a single heavy blow to the ligament. This is a common injury amongst novice skydivers. In both cases, tiny tears (called micro tears) appear in the ligament at the site where it attaches to the heel bone.

Sufferers of plantar fasciitis often complain of intense heel pain, generalized foot pain, stiffness, and tenderness along the bottom of the foot. Pain is often increased due to the emergence of heel spurs, sharp bony growths that appear at the inflamed joint. It can be very difficult to walk and climb stairs.

BREAKING DOWN – Plantar Fasciitis

Diagnosing plantar fasciitis is fairly simple. The condition presents tenderness along the edges of the sole with sharp pain at the inside arch of the heel. Other conditions that could have similar symptoms such as a fracture or tumor can be ruled out with x-rays. Often too, the cause of the injury is clear as in the case of a skydiver landing incorrectly.

Once plantar fasciitis has been determined as the cause of pain, your doctor will prescribe a basic regimen of ice application to cut the inflammation and reduce the pain. Medications may be indicated as well in cases where inflammation is excessive, normally in the form of ibuprofen pills or cortisone injections. Stretching exercises and localized massage can also be helpful. The general intent is reducing the inflammation and preventing re-injury. For the latter, doctors normally recommend the purchase of custom orthotic devices to place within shoes, or at the very least, footwear with well-cushioned soles.

In cases where standard treatments have no effect, surgery may be necessary, though this is quite infrequent. More often than not, with proper care plantar fasciitis resolves itself in a matter of days or short weeks.

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