Foot and ankle problems - plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the band of tissue that supports the middle of the foot arch. Inflammation usually occurs where it joins the heel bone approximately 2-3 cm in front of the back of the heel. 

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of foot arch pain. Symptoms are pain and stiffness in the arch of the foot or heel. Pain is worse in the morning and on taking the first few steps after having been at rest. Weight bearing activity and sport make it worse. Pain can settle during exercise but returns afterwards.

The problem is caused by overuse. Repeated activity traumatises the plantar fascia to the point where it is stretched beyond its normal limit, is damaged and inflamed.

Causes of plantar fasciitis:-
  • sudden increase in activity or training programme. It is common in the build up to a marathon.
  • ill fitting training shoes or those which need renewing. Hard soled shoes on hard surfaces commonly causes it. Plantar fasciitis was initially called policemans heel because well built policemen with hard surfaces pounding the beat would commonly suffer it.
  • poor walking or running biomechanics or gait.
  • poor calf flexibility.

Treatment can be one of more of the following:-

  • Rest
  • Ice for 15 minute periods using a light cloth around the pack to prevent ice burn.
  • anti-inflammatory gel, such as ibuprofen as an over the counter purchase, applied over the painful area.
  • stretching of the tight calf and plantar fascia.
  • changing footwear or wearing gel pads to reduce the heel strike.
  • the use of orthotics. Either simple, off the shelf, versions or the more expensive prescription version made to fit your foot.
  • local steroid injection by musculoskeletal physician.
  • prolotherapy injections to strengthen the point of attachment of the fascia.

Andrew Gilmour and Associates can provide advice and treatment for your individual problem via their team of osteopaths physiotherapists and medical physicians.