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Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia ligament (a thick, fibrous band of tissue) that connects your heel bone to your toes becomes inflamed and irritated, resulting in pain in your heel and arch of your foot.

Causes | Symptoms | Treatment | Prevention

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

Medical illustration of an inflamed plantar fascia due to plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is caused by strain put on the plantar fascia ligament, resulting in tiny tears in the ligament. Common causes of plantar fasciitis include:

  • Biomechanical issues such as high arches or flat feet
  • Wearing poor fitting or worn out footwear
  • Being overweight
  • A job that requires you to stand for long periods of time on hard surfaces, such as teachers or retail workers
  • Putting excessive strain on your feet, such as from running
  • Tight calf muscle or Achilles tendon

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis most often causes pain, inflammation and tenderness at the heel of the foot affected. Other symptoms include:

  • Stabbing pain at the heel, especially during the first few steps after being inactive
  • Pain in the heel after heavy exercise
  • Pain and inflammation at the arch of the foot
  • Pain that gets worse when you move the joint
  • Heel stiffness

How is Plantar Fasciitis Treated?

Plantar fasciitis can be treated at home and in a clinical setting. To ease the pain and inflammation of plantar fasciitis you can:

  • Rest
  • Apply ice
  • Avoid activities
  • Use anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to ease the pain

Physiotherapy for Plantar Fasciitis

A pt Health physiotherapist will assess your plantar fasciitis; depending on the cause and severity of your plantar fasciitis, treatment can include:

  • Active stretching
  • Strengthening and range of motion exercises
  • Soft tissue massage
  • Personalized exercise plan
  • Custom orthotics to support the arch of your foot
  • Pain relieving modalities such as:
    • Therapeutic ultrasound
    • Heat and ice therapy
    • Electrical stimulation

Can Plantar Fasciitis go Away on its Own?

Yes, plantar fasciitis may go away on its own with at home treatments including resting your foot, applying cold therapy, and taking pain-relieving medication. However, if your plantar fasciitis is a result of repetitive use or a biomechanical issue (flat feet or high arches), it is likely to reoccur without activity modification.

Can you Prevent Plantar Fasciitis?

If you have an increased plantar fasciitis risk (your job involves long periods of standing or you have a biomechanical issue), speak to your physiotherapist about your specific therapeutic needs. However, you can take steps to avoid plantar fasciitis including:

  • Stretch your arches and calf before and after exercise or long periods of standing
  • Wear supportive footwear
  • Maintain a healthy weight