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Plantar Faciitis

Plantar Fasciitis: Both heel pain and heel spurs are frequently associated with plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the band of fibrous connective tissue (fascia) running along the bottom (plantar surface) of the foot, from the heel to the ball of the foot. It is common among athletes who run and jump a lot, and it can be quite painful.

The condition occurs when the plantar fascia is strained over time beyond its normal extension, causing the soft tissue fibers of the fascia to tear or stretch at points along its length; this leads to inflammation, pain, and possibly the growth of a bone spur where the plantar fascia attaches to the heel bone. The inflammation may be aggravated by shoes that lack appropriate support, especially in the arch area, and by the chronic irritation that sometimes accompanies an athletic lifestyle.

Resting provides only temporary relief. When you resume walking, particularly after a night's sleep, you may experience a sudden elongation of the fascia band, which stretches and pulls on the heel. As you walk, the heel pain may lessen or even disappear, but that may be just a false sense of relief. The pain often returns after prolonged rest or extensive walking.

Causes

Heel pain has many causes. Heel pain is generally the result of faulty biomechanics (walking gait abnormalities) that place too much stress on the heel bone and the soft tissues that attach to it. The stress may also result from injury, or a bruise incurred while walking, running, or jumping on hard surfaces; wearing poorly constructed footwear or being overweight.

Treatment

Goals of treatment include controlling inflammation to the affected area, stretching, and maintaining the foot in its optimal alignment while standing and walking. These goals can be achieved by the following: Controlling inflammation: Ice is one of the best anti-inflammatory elements available. Icing the bottom of your feet can be done by freezing a water bottle and rolling your feet over it for no more than 20 minutes at a time. Oral anti-inflammatory medication is another good option for both inflammation control and pain control. At times it is necessary for an injection of anti-inflammatory medication to the affected area. Stretching: Exercises can be performed to stretch the plantar fascia as well as the Achilles tendon, which many times acts as an aggravating force on foot types prone to heel pain. Foot alignment: Foot alignment can be achieved in most cases with an insert that supports the arch of the foot and relieves stress on the plantar fascia as well as aggravating stresses surrounding it. In some cases a custom insert is necessary to put the foot in its most ideal alignment in the shoe. Temporary relief can often be achieved by taping or strapping the affected area of the foot.