Plantar fasciitis is a prevalent ailment characterized by discomfort in the heel area of the foot. This condition primarily impacts individuals aged 40 to 60 years, although it can also affect younger age groups. The pain is typically experienced on the underside of the foot, near the heel.
The plantar fascia plays a critical role in foot functionality as it serves as a strong and flexible ligament connecting the heel bone to the toes. This remarkable band of tissue provides stability and support to the arch of the foot, effectively absorbing and distributing pressures and forces during everyday activities such as walking, running, and jumping. By maintaining proper foot posture and biomechanics, the plantar fascia minimizes strain and stress on other structures in the foot, enhancing overall foot health and preventing potential injuries.
The plantar fascia is a band of tissue in the foot that usually isn’t tight when you’re on your feet or walking. However, if it experiences repeated stress, it can become tight and develop inflammation. This, in turn, results in pain and stiffness in the foot. It’s important to take care of your feet to prevent such issues from occurring.
If you have plantar fasciitis, your symptoms can affect your daily life and your performance at work and in sports. The pain can also cause you to change your walking or exercise routine.
A health care provider can diagnose plantar fasciitis by doing an exam of your feet and checking for tenderness in the area where the plantar fascia is located. He or she will ask you about your activity, your weight and your foot structure, and then press on different parts of your sole.
Your provider may prescribe medicines for pain or recommend you wear special devices to relieve your symptoms. They can also show you how to stretch your feet and strengthen your lower leg muscles.
The most effective way to treat plantar fasciitis is through physical therapy and stretching exercises. These can help ease the pain and stiffness that is often associated with this condition, says Dr. Mauser.
Changing your activities and taking a break from any high-impact sports can also help with your symptoms. This is especially true if you are overweight, which can put more stress on the plantar fascia.
Exercising with a low-impact activity such as swimming or cycling can reduce the impact on your feet and lessen the stress placed on your plantar fascia, says Dr. Quirolgico.
Maintaining a healthy weight is also important. Being overweight adds extra pressure on the feet and can cause more stress on your plantar fascia, which is why it is recommended that you take steps to lose weight if you have been overweight for a while.
You should also make sure that your shoes fit correctly, as wearing shoes with too much room in the toe box can increase pressure on the plantar fascia. If you are a runner, choose sneakers that support your arch and cushion your heel.
Some medications can relieve pain and stiffness from plantar fasciitis. These include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, etc.), naproxen sodium (Aleve) and diclofenac sodium (Clavice).
Using the best night splints for plantar fasciitis is another option that can be helpful in relieving pain while you sleep. This splint is designed to hold your ankle in a stretched position while you sleep, helping to ease the pain by reducing the strain on your feet and your plantar fascia.
While these treatments can ease your symptoms, they are not permanent solutions. If the pain continues to recur, your doctor may recommend more advanced treatments such as corticosteroid injections or extracorporeal shock wave therapy.