Prevention and Cure: Plantar Fasciitis

Many of us would have experienced heel pain. In many cases, the cause is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, a condition known as plantar fasciitis.

The plantar fascia is a flat band of tissue (a ligament) that connects the heel bone to the toes, and is responsible for maintaining the arch of the foot. When this band is overworked — either due to long periods of standing or walking — it becomes inflamed.

The inflammation can also be due to excessive pressure on the foot stemming from:

  • Over-pronation (inward roll of the feet)
  • High arch
  • Flat feet
  • Tight calf muscles
  • Being overweight/obese
  • Signs to look out for

    People suffering from plantar fasciitis notice that the pain is worse:

  • In the morning when they get up from bed
  • When they stand up after sitting for some time
  • Usually, sufferers will feel the pain ease off after a few steps. This is because as the plantar fascia gets stretched, it allows some relief and recovery. However, the pain may return as the inflammation becomes aggravated due to continued pressure on the foot. It may also be especially painful when climbing stairs or after standing for a long time.

    It is important to find out the cause of the foot pain and identify plantar fasciitis early so that treatment and management can begin.

    Left untreated, the condition:

  • Can become chronic
  • Can lead to pain in other parts of the foot or even the knees and hips
  • In both cases, gait and mobility may be affected, increasing the risk of falls and adversely affecting daily routines.

    Treatment and Prevention

    Treatment for the condition is largely conservative and focused on improving the flexibility of the plantar fascia.

    Consistent stretching of the ligament, calves and Achilles tendon is recommended, particularly after getting out of bed or prolonged sitting. Other remedies include:

  • Cutting back on prolonged standing, running on hard surfaces and walking for long distances
  • Ensuring that shoes fit well, give good arch support and cushion the sole
  • Getting a foot splint to wear at night
  • In some cases, anti-inflammatory medication or cortisone injections may also be prescribed.

    Ideally, patients should also consult a podiatrist. This ensures that those with flat feet or high arches wear appropriate footwear and insoles to alleviate pressure on the plantar fascia.

    Surgery is only recommended as an option in rare cases, typically when there is no improvement after six to 12 months.

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