What is plantar fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is a fibrous band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. It also supports the arch of the foot.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the tissue. It is the result of stress on the plantar. The sharp pain is felt mainly in the heel. At times, the pain is worse in the morning, but it may vary. Sometimes, there is cramping or the pain travels up the side of the leg. Most often, it occurs on one side of the leg rather than both.
Why does this occur?
These factors can cause stretching and small tears in the tissue.
- Low-arched feet
- Shoes without proper support
- Running or jumping on a hard surface
- Weight gain
What are the symptoms?
One symptom is pain in the heel, which is often only on one side of the leg. The pain is described as sharp or burning. Climbing stairs, standing for a long period of time, and exercise may bring out the pain.
How can this be treated?
There are several things that you can do to decrease symptoms.
- Decrease running, aerobics, and walking.
- Increase swimming and bicycling.
- Stretch in the morning and before exercise.
- Lose weight.
- Reduce the heels on your shoes to 1 or 2 inches.
- Have good arch support in your shoes.
- Use over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Ice the heel for 10 minutes twice a day.
What can exercise do?
Some exercises can strengthen your plantar fascia.
- Foot and ankle circles: Circle the foot at the ankle, moving the foot up and down by flexing and extending the ankle.
- Toe curls: Stand on a thick book with your toes hanging off the edge. Curl your toes around the book. The toes should be curled and straightened. Do this for one to two minutes, twice daily.
- Toe towel curls: Roll up a towel and stand on it. Curl toes around towel. The toes should be curled and straightened. Do this for one to two minutes, twice daily.
- Calf stretch: Stand, leaning against the wall with both hands. Put one foot ahead of the other. Keep the back foot pointing straight ahead, with the heel down and your knees straight. Shift your weight forward by bending the front knee. Hold. Feel the stretch behind the knee and down the back of the lower rear leg. Repeat, but this time with the back knee as well, with your heel still on the floor. Hold. You’ll feel the stretch lower down the back of the rear leg. Switch and repeat with the other leg.
What can the doctor do to help?
Often, over-the-counter heel-supports or cushions are helpful. Anti-inflammatory medicines may be tried. Custom-made orthotics, physical therapy, and night splints can be used for pain that doesn’t go away. Corticosteroid injections into the heel can also be tried. Surgery is rarely needed.
What is the prognosis?
You need to be aware that recovery may be slow. Symptoms take up to 6 to 12 months to go away. It is very important to follow the lifestyle changes listed earlier. For the best results, follow the plan your doctor gave you. These changes will also help to lessen how often and how severe any future problems might be.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 05/14/2013
Copyright © 05/14/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6995
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