Heel pain is a common foot condition. It's usually felt as an intense pain when using the affected heel. Heel pain usually builds up gradually and gets worse over time. The pain is often severe and
occurs when you place weight on the heel. In most cases, only one heel is affected, although estimates suggest that around a third of people have pain in both heels. The pain is usually worse first
thing in the morning, or when you first take a step after a period of inactivity. Walking usually improves the pain, but it often gets worse again after walking or standing for a long time. Some
people may limp or develop an abnormal walking style as they try to avoid placing weight on the affected heel.
Far and away the most common cause of plantar fasciitis in an athlete is faulty biomechanics of the foot or leg. Faulty biomechanics causes the foot to sustain increased or prolonged stresses over
and above those of routine ground contacts. Throughout the phase of ground contact, the foot assumes several mechanical positions to dissipate shock while at the same time placing the foot in the
best position to deliver ground forces. With heel landing the foot is supinated (ankle rolled out). At mid-stance the foot is pronated (ankle rolled in). The foot is supinated again with toe-off. The
supination of the foot at heel strike and toe-off makes the foot a rigid lever. At heel strike the shock of ground contact is transferred to the powerful quads. During toe-off forward motion is
created by contraction of the gastroc complex plantar flexing the rigid lever of the foot pushing the body forward.
You'll typically first notice early plantar fasciitis pain under your heel or in your foot arch in the morning or after resting. Your heel pain will be worse with the first steps and improves with
activity as it warms up. As plantar fasciitis deteriorates, the pain will be present more often. You can determine what stage your are in using the following guidelines. No Heel Pain, Normal! Heel
pain after exercise. Heel pain before and after exercise. Heel pain before, during and after exercise. Heel pain all the time. Including at rest! This symptom progression is consistent with the four
stages of a typical overuse injury. Ultimately, further trauma and delayed healing will result in the formation of calcium (bone) within the plantar fascia. When this occurs adjacent to the heel bone
it is known as heel spurs, which have a longer rehabilitation period.
A thorough subjective and objective examination from a physiotherapist is usually sufficient to diagnose plantar fasciitis. Occasionally, further investigations such as an X-ray, ultrasound or MRI
may be required to assist with diagnosis and assess the severity of the condition.
Non Surgical Treatment
The following recommendations are appropriate. Wear shoes with adequate arch support and cushioned heels; discard old running shoes and wear new ones; rotate work shoes daily. Avoid long periods of
standing. Lose weight. Stretch the plantar fascia and warm up the lower extremity before participating in exercise. For increased flexibility, stretch the plantar fascia and the calf after exercise.
Do not exercise on hard surfaces. Avoid walking barefooted on hard surfaces. Avoid high-impact sports that require a great deal of jumping (eg, aerobics and volleyball). Apply ice for 20 minutes
after repetitive impact-loading activities and at the end of the day. Limit repetitive impact-loading activities such as running to every other day, and consider rest or cross-training for nonrunning
The most dramatic therapy, used only in cases where pain is very severe, is surgery. The plantar fascia can be partially detached from the heel bone, but the arch of the foot is weakened and full
function may be lost. Another surgery involves lengthening the calf muscle, a process called gastrocnemius recession. If you ignore the condition, you can develop chronic heel pain. This can change
the way you walk and cause injury to your legs, knees, hips and back. Steroid injections and some other treatments can weaken the plantar fascia ligament and cause potential rupture of the ligament.
Surgery carries the risks of bleeding, infection, and reactions to anesthesia. Plantar fascia detachment can also cause changes in your foot and nerve damage. Gastrocnemius resection can also cause
Stretching your plantar fasciitis is something you can do at home to relieve pain and speed healing. Ice massage performed three to four times per day in 15 to 20 minute intervals is also something
you can do to reduce inflammation and pain. Placing arch supports in your shoes absorbs shock and takes pressure off the plantar fascia.