Plantar fasciitis is a very common condition resulting in pain under the heel which often radiates into the foot. We explain free of charge everything you need to know to cure your pain and prevent
it from returning.
You're more likely to develop the condition if you're female, overweight or have a job that requires a lot of walking or standing on hard surfaces. You're also at risk if you walk or run for
exercise, especially if you have tight calf muscles that limit how far you can flex your ankles. People with very flat feet or very high arches also are more prone to plantar fasciitis.
Patients with plantar fasciitis typically experience pain underneath the heel and along the inner sole of the foot. In less severe cases, patients may only experience an ache or stiffness in the
plantar fascia or heel that increases with rest (typically at night or first thing in the morning) following activities which place stress on the plantar fascia. These activities typically include
standing, walking or running excessively (especially up hills, on uneven surfaces or in poor footwear such as thongs), jumping, hopping and general weight bearing activity. The pain associated with
this condition may also warm up with activity in the initial stages of injury. As the condition progresses, patients may experience symptoms that increase during sport or activity, affecting
performance. In severe cases, patients may walk with a limp or be unable to weight bear on the affected leg. Patients with this condition may also experience swelling, tenderness on firmly touching
the plantar fascia (often on a specific spot on the inner aspect of the heel) and sometimes pain on performing a plantar fascia stretch.
Your GP or podiatrist (a healthcare professional who specialises in foot care) may be able to diagnose the cause of your heel pain by asking about your symptoms and examining your heel and foot. You
will usually only need further tests if you have additional symptoms that suggest the cause of your heel pain is not inflammation, such as numbness or a tingling sensation in your foot, this could be
a sign of nerve damage in your feet and legs (peripheral neuropathy) your foot feels hot and you have a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above - these could be signs of a bone infection,
you have stiffness and swelling in your heel, this could be a sign of arthritis. Possible further tests may include blood tests, X-rays - where small doses of radiation are used to detect problems
with your bones and tissues, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or ultrasound scan, which are more detailed scans.
Non Surgical Treatment
Heel cups are used to decrease the impact on the calcaneus and to theoretically decrease the tension on the plantar fascia by elevating the heel on a soft cushion. Although heel cups have been found
to be useful by some physicians and patients, in our experience they are more useful in treating patients with fat pad syndrome and heel bruises than patients with plantar fasciitis. In a survey of
411 patients with plantar fasciitis, heel cups were ranked as the least effective of 11 different treatments.
Surgery is rarely used in the treatment of plantar fasciitis. However it may be recommended when conservative treatment has been tried for several months but does not bring adequate relief of
symptoms. Surgery usually involves the partial release of the plantar fascia from the heel bone. In approximately 75% of cases symptoms are fully resolved within six months. In a small percentage of
cases, symptoms may take up to 12 months to fully resolve.
There are certain things that you can do to try to prevent plantar fasciitis, especially if you have had it before. These include regularly changing training shoes used for running or walking.
Wearing shoes with good cushioning in the heels and good arch support. Losing weight if you are overweight. Regularly stretching the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon, especially before exercise.
Avoiding exercising on hard surfaces.