The plantar fascia is a thickened fibrous aponeurosis that originates from the medial tubercle of the calcaneus, runs forward to insert into the deep, short transverse ligaments of the metatarsal
heads, dividing into 5 digital bands at the metatarsophalangeal joints and continuing forward to form the fibrous flexor sheathes on the plantar aspect of the toes. Small plantar nerves are invested
in and around the plantar fascia, acting to register and mediate pain.
The cause of plantar fasciitis is poorly understood and is thought to likely have several contributing factors. The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band of connective tissue that originates from
the medial tubercle and anterior aspect of the heel bone. From there, the fascia extends along the sole of the foot before inserting at the base of the toes, and supports the arch of the foot.
Originally, plantar fasciitis was believed to be an inflammatory condition of the plantar fascia. However, within the last decade, studies have observed microscopic anatomical changes indicating that
plantar fasciitis is actually due to a non-inflammatory structural breakdown of the plantar fascia rather than an inflammatory process. Due to this shift in thought about the underlying mechanisms in
plantar fasciitis, many in the academic community have stated the condition should be renamed plantar fasciosis. The structural breakdown of the plantar fascia is believed to be the result of
repetitive microtrauma (small tears). Microscopic examination of the plantar fascia often shows myxomatous degeneration, connective tissue calcium deposits, and disorganized collagen fibers.
Disruptions in the plantar fasciaâs normal mechanical movement during standing and walking (known as the Windlass mechanism) are thought to contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis by
placing excess strain on the calcaneal tuberosity.
The symptoms of plantar fasciitis include pain in the bottom of your foot, especially at the front or centre of the heel bone, pain that is worse when first rising in the morning (called "first-step
pain"), when first standing up after any long period of sitting, or after increased levels of activity especially in non-supportive shoes. Seek medical advice about plantar fasciitis if you have heel
pain or pain in the bottom of your foot, especially when you get up in the morning, that does not respond to treatment or if there is redness or bruising in the heel.
Plantar fasciitis is one of many conditions causing "heel pain". Some other possible causes include nerve compression either in the foot or in the back, stress fracture of the calcaneus, and loss of
the fatty tissue pad under the heel. Plantar fasciitis can be distinguished from these and other conditions based on a history and examination done by a physician. It should be noted that heel spurs
are often inappropriately thought to be the sole cause of heel pain. In fact, heel spurs are common and are nothing more than the bone's response to traction or pulling-type forces from the plantar
fascia and other muscles in the foot where they attach to the heel bone. They are commonly present in patients without pain, and frequently absent from those who have pain. It is the rare patient who
has a truly enlarged and problematic spur requiring surgery.
Non Surgical Treatment
Talk to your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include. Apply ice or a cold pack to the heel and arch for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day. Wrap the ice or cold pack in a
towel. Do not apply the ice directly to your skin. A special splint that will hold your foot in a neutral position while sleeping. Special shoe inserts that support the mid-arch region of your foot.
Inserts that are not customized may work just as well as those that are customized. Activity. Avoid running and other activities that may worsen pain. Begin stretching exercises to lengthen the
Achilles tendon and plantar fascia as recommended by your doctor. This is usually done when pain has lessened or improved. To help manage pain, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Prescription pain relievers may also be required. Steroid injections may be used in some cases or if other treatment is not
working. A special type of sound wave called extracorporeal shock wave may also be considered in certain cases. This treatment happens under the care of your doctor. At this time, this is generally a
treatment for long-term cases that do not respond to other treatments. Massage therapy or accupuncture may also be effective for long-term cases. In a few cases, basic treatments don't help. Surgery
may be performed to cut the tight, swollen fascia.
Surgery should be reserved for patients who have made every effort to fully participate in conservative treatments, but continue to have pain from plantar fasciitis. Patients should fit the following
criteria. Symptoms for at least 9 months of treatment. Participation in daily treatments (exercises, stretches, etc.). If you fit these criteria, then surgery may be an option in the treatment of
your plantar fasciitis. Unfortunately, surgery for treatment of plantar fasciitis is not as predictable as a surgeon might like. For example, surgeons can reliably predict that patients with severe
knee arthritis will do well after knee replacement surgery about 95% of the time. Those are very good results. Unfortunately, the same is not true of patients with plantar fasciitis.
You may begin exercising the muscles of your foot right away by gently stretching them as follows. Prone hip extension, Lie on your stomach with your legs straight out behind you. Tighten up your
buttocks muscles and lift one leg off the floor about 8 inches. Keep your knee straight. Hold for 5 seconds. Then lower your leg and relax. Do 3 sets of 10. Towel stretch, Sit on a hard surface with
one leg stretched out in front of you. Loop a towel around your toes and the ball of your foot and pull the towel toward your body keeping your knee straight. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds
then relax. Repeat 3 times. When the towel stretch becomes too easy, you may begin doing the standing calf stretch. Standing calf stretch, Facing a wall, put your hands against the wall at about eye
level. Keep one leg back with the heel on the floor, and the other leg forward. Turn your back foot slightly inward (as if you were pigeon-toed) as you slowly lean into the wall until you feel a
stretch in the back of your calf. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times. Do this exercise several times each day. Sitting plantar fascia stretch, Sit in a chair and cross one foot over your other
knee. Grab the base of your toes and pull them back toward your leg until you feel a comfortable stretch. Hold 15 seconds and repeat 3 times. When you can stand comfortably on your injured foot, you
can begin standing to stretch the bottom of your foot using the plantar fascia stretch. Achilles stretch, Stand with the ball of one foot on a stair. Reach for the bottom step with your heel until
you feel a stretch in the arch of your foot. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds and then relax. Repeat 3 times. After you have stretched the bottom muscles of your foot, you can begin
strengthening the top muscles of your foot. Frozen can roll, Roll your bare injured foot back and forth from your heel to your mid-arch over a frozen juice can. Repeat for 3 to 5 minutes. This
exercise is particularly helpful if done first thing in the morning. Towel pickup, With your heel on the ground, pick up a towel with your toes. Release. Repeat 10 to 20 times. When this gets easy,
add more resistance by placing a book or small weight on the towel. Balance and reach exercises, Stand upright next to a chair. This will provide you with balance if needed. Stand on the foot
farthest from the chair. Try to raise the arch of your foot while keeping your toes on the floor. Keep your foot in this position and reach forward in front of you with your hand farthest away from
the chair, allowing your knee to bend. Repeat this 10 times while maintaining the arch height. This exercise can be made more difficult by reaching farther in front of you. Do 2 sets. Stand in the
same position as above. While maintaining your arch height, reach the hand farthest away from the chair across your body toward the chair. The farther you reach, the more challenging the exercise. Do
2 sets of 10. Heel raise, Balance yourself while standing behind a chair or counter. Using the chair to help you, raise your body up onto your toes and hold for 5 seconds. Then slowly lower yourself
down without holding onto the chair. Hold onto the chair or counter if you need to. When this exercise becomes less painful, try lowering on one leg only. Repeat 10 times. Do 3 sets of 10. Side-lying
leg lift, Lying on your side, tighten the front thigh muscles on your top leg and lift that leg 8 to 10 inches away from the other leg. Keep the leg straight. Do 3 sets of 10.