Plantar Fasciitis | A Pain in the Heel

Plantar Fasciitis is a funny name for a pain that is no joke.

Heel pain is an excruciating condition to suffer from and Plantar fasciitis is the most common form of heel that there is. Most patients we see have never heard of it until they get it and then do some research on the internet. The problem with self diagnosis is that like on most subjects the net is full of misinformation. Hopefully this article will help clear up a few things.

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, a ligament-like structure under the arch of the foot that goes from the big toe joint to the heel bone. The most common version is a pain at the attachment point of the structure just at the inside/front portion of the heel bone.

The pain in the heel in the morning can be the most painful it will be throughout the day.  This is due to the fascia ‘resting’ and tightening at night.

Inflammation builds up over years of repetitive ‘pulling’ on the attachment due to incorrect biomechanics. or tightness in the plantar fascia which is strained during activities such as walking and running.

Most people think that their problems started only a few months previously to attended the clinic but in fact their condition started years before but is only starting to ’cause’ pain in recent times.

A few myths about plantar fasciitis

The following don’t cause plantar fasciitis…but they do have an influence on it:

  • Bodyweight
  • The wrong shoes
  • The wrong running shoes
  • Trauma (such as jumping down off a high surface)
  • Heel spurs…more on this later

Being overweight doesn’t help your biomechanics but carrying excess weight doesn’t cause heel pain, it just adds to it.

Incorrect footwear choices will increase pain because of lack of support for the ‘badly positioned’ foot. However, they don’t induce heel pain. Avoid slippers, slip-on shoes and shoes with little stiffening in the heel area such as deck shoes.

Heel spurs are an interesting problem. This is because you can have heel spurs and never get heel pain and vice versa. They can cause heel pain but a lot of the time this is just a traumatic pain and not actual plantar fasciitis. Claims that all plantar fasciitis pain is caused by heel spurs are just false.

Treatments for plantar fasciitis

Treatment can be very simple to apply.

The main form of treatment we apply at Leinster Clinic Biomechanics Lab are foot orthotics. We also recommend a stretching programme and sometimes a night splint. The latter 2 are pain management treatments. Altering your biomechanics, the main cause of the pain, is the primary treatment because if we don’t solve the reason for the heel pain then the other treatments aren’t going to be successful at all.

Sufferers of plantar fasciitis can be helped easily in most cases but the misinformation and maltreatment of this condition is rampant and continues unchallenged in many corners.

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