Plantar Fasciitis is an inflammatory process that occurs in the plantar fascia, usually at the insertion to the heel bone (calcaneus). It has been reported that 10% of the worldwide population will suffer from this condition at some point in their lives. The inflammatory process is thought to occur due to repeated trauma to the plantar fascia as it is over-stretched. In other words, the burden on the foot is too great for the plantar fascia to maintain the foot arch and therefore the arch 'collapses' or 'falls' slightly more than it should, thus over-stretching the fascia. This causes damage (micro-tears) in the plantar fascia which triggers the inflammatory response, causing pain. In the vast majority of cases this process occurs at the origin of the plantar fascia at the heel bone.
There are many different factors that can cause arch pain. A structural imbalance or an injury to the foot can often be the direct cause. However, most frequently the cause is a common condition called plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a broad band of fibrous tissue located along the bottom surface of the foot that runs from the heel to the forefoot. Excessive stretching of the plantar fascia, usually due to over-pronation (flat feet), causes plantar fasciitis. The inflammation caused by the plantar fascia being stretched away from the heel often leads to pain in the heel and arch areas. The pain is often extreme in the morning when an individual first gets out of bed or after a prolonged period of rest. If this condition is left untreated and strain on the longitudinal arch continues, a bony protrusion may develop, known as a heel spur. It is important to treat the condition promptly before it worsens.
Symptoms include pain which is often described as a burning pain radiating into the arch of the foot, heel and sometimes the toes. Pins and needles or numbness may be felt in the sole of the foot. Pain may be worse when running or when standing for long periods of time and often worse at night. The area under the medial malleolus on the inside of the ankle may be tender to touch.
A patient is asked to step with full body weight on the symptomatic foot, keeping the unaffected foot off the ground. The patient is then instructed to "raise up on the tip toes" of the affected foot. If the posterior tibial tendon has been attenuated or ruptured, the patient will be unable to lift the heel off the floor and rise onto the toes. In less severe cases, the patient will be able to rise on the toes, but the heel will not be noted to invert as it normally does when we rise onto the toes. X-rays can be helpful but are not diagnostic of the adult acquired flatfoot. Both feet, the symptomatic and asymptomatic - will demonstrate a flatfoot deformity on x-ray. Careful observation may show a greater severity of deformity on the affected side.
Non Surgical Treatment
There are many treatments for fasciitis. The most common initial treatment provided by the family doctor are anti-inflammatory medications. They may take the edge off the pain, but they don't often resolve the condition fully. Steroid injections, which deliver the medication directly to the most painful area, are usually more effective. Rest, ice, weight loss, taping, strapping, immobilization, physiotherapy, massage, stretching, heel cushions, acupuncture, night splints and extra-corporeal shock wave therapy all help some patients.
Fallen arches may occur with deformities of the foot bones. Tarsal coalition is a congenital condition in which the bones of the foot do not separate from one another during development in the womb. A child with tarsal coalition exhibits a rigid flat foot, which can be painful, notes the patient information website eOrthopod. Surgery may prove necessary to separate the bones. Other foot and ankle conditions that cause fallen arches may also require surgery if noninvasive treatments fail to alleviate pain and restore normal function.
There are several things you can do to prevent pain on the bottom of the foot. Here are some tips to help you avoid this condition. Do simple stretches each day (See Plantar Fasciitis Exercises for a list of all exercises). Wear good shoes that fit properly and are appropriate for the activity you are participating in. Lose excess weight if possible. Build your stamina slowly, especially with new exercises. Rest and elevate your feet, whenever possible, keeping them at least twelve inches above your heart. Always follow your doctor?s instructions for treatment. Each day do a different activity. For example: one day ride your bike, and swim the next day.