What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis means inflammation of your plantar fascia. Your plantar fascia is a strong band of tissue (like a ligament) that stretches from your heel to your toes. It supports the arch of your foot and acts as a shock-absorber in your foot.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms typically involve heel pain which has come on gradually over weeks. It is usually worse first thing in the morning and after getting up from sitting. It will usually improve on weightbearing initially but worsen during the day if on your feet a lot.
What causes plantar fasciitis?
Repeated small injuries often caused by a stretched plantar fascia (with or without inflammation) are thought to be the cause of plantar fasciitis. The injury is usually near to where the plantar fascia attaches to your heel bone. You are more likely to injure your plantar fascia in certain situations.
If you are on your feet for a lot of the time e.g. walking, standing, running
If you have recently started exercising on a different surface
If you have been wearing shoes with poor cushioning
If you are overweight – this will put extra strain on your heel
If there is an overuse or stretching of your sole e.g. athletes who increase running intensity or distances
If you have a tight Achilles tendon. This can affect your ability to flex your ankle.
How common is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is very common. Around 1 in 10 people will get plantar fasciitis at some time in their life
What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis? Pain is the main symptom. This can be anywhere on the underside of the heel. However commonly, one spot is found as the main source of pain. This is often about 4cm forward from your heel and may be tender to touch.
The pain is often worse when you take your first steps on getting up in the morning, or after long periods of rest where no weight is placed on your foot.
How is plantar fasciitis diagnosed?
Your podiatrist can usually diagnose plantar fasciitis by examining your foot and talking to you.
It is important to note that there are other causes of heel pain and if your heel pain is not settling, it is important to get a definitive diagnosis to rule out other causes. This could include an MRI, ultrasound scan or X-ray.
What is the initial treatment for plantar fasciitis?
Initial treatments usually involve rest, orthoses (insoles), exercises, massage, icing and anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. Click here to learn more about orthoses therapy.
If these methods do not help then other treatments are suggested such as Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) or steroid injections.
Click here to find out more about ESWT.
Click here to find out more about steroid injections.