Foot Pain

Plantar faciitis

What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is a common, painful condition caused by overuse and inflammation of the fascia (soft tissue) in the heel and foot. The plantar fascia is a strong, soft-tissue band running from the heel to the ball of your foot and acts as a shock absorber. The most common site of inflammation and pain is in the heel.

What are the causes for plantar fasciitis?

  • Prolonged periods of standing or increased training
  • Foot abnormalities such as flat feet or over pronation
  • Increased body weight
  • Tightness in the calf muscles

What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Heel pain which is typically worse first thing in the morning, often called 'first step' pain
  • 'First step' pain usually eases after walking a few steps
  • Heel pain also increases with prolonged periods of standing, walking or getting up after periods of rest

How do I manage this problem?

  • Shoes: Wear comfortable shoes with soft soles and good arch support
  • Rest: try to take adequate breaks inbetween walking or periods of standing
  • Activity modification is key and you may be given advice from your physiotherapist or podiatrist
  • Weight loss is a key factor in controlling heel pain
  • Localised massage followed by an ice pack can help settle mild symptoms
  • Heel pads: Most chemist shops supply soft gel insoles or heel pads which help to ease pressure around the heel
  • Exercises: Calf muscle and foot stretching exercises are usually helpful (please see attached exercise sheet)

What other treatments are available?

  • Physiotherapy: Your physiotherapist may use various manual therapy techniques, acupuncture, taping, night splinting and specific exercises to relieve the symptoms and prevent recurrence 
  • Podiatry: Your podiatrist may assess your foot biomechanics (the way your foot joints move) and advise on the right orthotic supports for your foot
  • Corticosteroid injection: Your specialist physiotherapist or doctor may inject your plantar fascia to relieve pain
  • Surgery: is rarely considered for but if symptoms persist over 12 months an orthopaedic opinion may be recommended.
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