You can’t get away from sore feet. The pain of plantar fasciitis easily limits your activities – it hurts to walk the kids to school so you drive instead, you say ‘no’ to that romantic stroll along the riverbank, and you’re grateful to live in an era when groceries can be ordered online and delivered to your door.
What’s going on? And what do you do when your heels need healing?
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is a thick, fibrous band of tissue that extends from the heel bone towards the toes. It forms the arch of the foot and acts as the body’s shock absorber.
When the plantar fascia becomes painfully inflamed, it’s known as plantar fasciitis. It’s a painful condition that will affect about 10 percent of people in their lifetime. It can affect a wide range of people, from runners to office workers.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis can be caused by biomechanical problems or situations that put extra stress on your feet. That can include:
- High-impact sports that put stress on your heel bone when you land
- Being in middle or later life
- Having flat feet or high arches
- Not having enough arch support in your shoes
- Being overweight or pregnant
- Being on your feet all day.
What Are the Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
The main symptom of plantar fasciitis is dull or sharp pain under the heel or in the arch of the foot. This is often at its worst when you take your first steps in the morning, spend a fair amount of time on your feet or sitting down, or throw yourself into an intensive workout.
How Do We Treat Plantar Fasciitis?
If the pain is bad, you can take some ibuprofen to ease it and reduce inflammation. The main treatments for plantar fasciitis aim to correct tightness and restriction in the foot and lower leg.
This is done by:
- Physical therapy: certain exercises help to stretch your plantar fascia and your Achilles tendon and strengthen your calf muscles. Those exercises may include calf stretches or heel dips, rolling your foot over something, and stretching your big toe.
- Taping: Applying athletic tape in a certain way helps to offload the pressure on your foot, giving it a chance to recover. You can find taping advice online but it’s often best done by a professional.
- Orthotics: These are arch-support insoles that go inside your shoes and support your foot, helping to treat plantar fasciitis and prevent it recurring.
Most people find that their feet improve after a few weeks or months of these treatments.
In some cases, though, the pain persists. For such patients, the next phase of treatment may include:
- Night splints: These stretch your calf and foot while you sleep.
- Injections: Steroid injections may provide temporary pain relief while your own plasma may also be injected to promote healing.
- Extracorporeal shock wave therapy: This uses sound waves to stimulate deep tissue healing.
- Surgery: If all other treatments have failed, your doctor may recommend surgery to detach the plantar fascia from the heel bone.
How Can Relinque Sports and Spinal Group Help?
Our osteopaths understand musculoskeletal problems and are experienced in treating plantar fasciitis using osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT). This involves manipulating the bones and soft tissues in your foot to reduce tightness and improve mobility as well as assessing the biomechanics of your ankles, legs, knees and hips. We can set exercises for you to do at home and recommend orthotics if you would benefit from them.
Don’t wait for plantar fasciitis to heal itself – you could be waiting a long time. Give Relinque Sports and Spinal Group a call on 03 9499 9644.