What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition where the band of fibrous tissue at the bottom of your foot (called the “plantar fascia”) becomes inflamed. It is one of the most common causes of heel pain.
The plantar fascia initiates at the heel bone and extends to the ball of the foot. It is responsible for supporting the arch and helps with shock absorption. Repetitive strain to this structure may lead to plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis usually develops gradually over time (although there are exceptions). With proper care and treatment, most cases of plantar fasciitis heal with time. A foot specialist can guide you through the healing process, and provide options for preventing it from recurring in the future.
What Are The Symptoms Of Plantar Fasciitis?
The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is a sharp or stabbing pain on the underside of the heel with the first few steps taken in the morning as well as with the first steps taken after rest. The pain tends to then subside as you walk around. The pain may also reoccur with prolonged standing or return at the end of the day.
Onset is usually gradual and symptoms tend to build over time. However, on occasion, it can be triggered suddenly by at-risk activities or trauma (i.e.: a misstep or jumping too high).
For others causes of heel pain see heel spur or Achilles tendonitis.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is a band of thick connective tissue at the bottom of your foot that supports the arches. It runs between the heel and the toes. When the plantar fascia is overused, it causes microtears that lead to inflammation or degeneration, and pain.
Plantar fasciitis can be caused or contributed to by the following:
- Poorly constructed shoes that do not provide enough arch support: The plantar fascia is responsible for supporting the arches of our feet. If our shoes don’t have adequate arch support, the plantar fascia has to overcompensate and then gets overworked, which leads to plantar fasciitis.
- Obesity and pregnancy (the extra body weight increase the load on the plantar fascia)
- Participation in high impact sports
- Occupations that require prolonged standing or walking
How Do I Treat Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis treatment may include:
- Rest: This is usually done for the first few weeks of recovery
- Rolling a tennis ball or frozen water bottle under the foot: This strengthens the muscles by the arch of the foot. It also massages and relieves tension in the inflamed plantar fascia.
- Stretching and strengthening exercises: You can view some helpful stretches here.
- Shockwave Therapy: This non-invasive innovative treatment delivers high energy sound wave pulses to the affected area. It triggers your body’s natural healing response so it can repair the plantar fascia and reduce pain. Shockwave therapy is used to treat chronic plantar fasciitis that persists longer than 6 months.
- Elastic therapeutic taping techniques to prevent unwanted movements that increase strain on the plantar fascia
- Wearing a splint or boot cast to help prevent tightening of the plantar fascia when non weight bearing (ie during sleep)
- Properly fitted custom orthotics or orthopedic shoes: These will support the arches of your feet and reduce stress on the plantar fascia while it heals. Orthotics and orthopaedic shoes also encourage proper heel to toe gait, which, in combination with the arch support, can prevent recurrence.
- Over-the-counter insoles or modified insoles: The knowledgeable staff at our foot clinic can help you find insoles that properly support your arches. We can also get you modified insoles that are customized especially for you and your unique foot needs.
- Taking ill-fitting footwear out of rotation
If you have persistent heel pain, schedule a diagnostic assessment with our own licensed Chiropodists (foot specialists), use the booking form below or call 416-769-FEET(3338).
A foot specialist and the knowledgeable staff at our foot clinic can also fit you for orthotics and help you find footwear and supports that are perfectly tailored for your needs and activities.
Our Toronto foot clinic is open Mondays to Fridays from 9am-6pm and Saturdays from 9am-4pm. You do not need a referral to become a patient at our foot clinic.
What Risk Factors Are Associated With Plantar Fasciitis?
Anyone can get plantar fasciitis; however the following risk factors make a person more vulnerable:
- Flimsy, unsupportive footwear: Wearing flat shoes with soft soles that don’t adequately absorb shock or support your arches while you walk puts extra stress on the plantar fascia.
- High-impact sports: Certain types of exercise put extra stress on the plantar fascia, including long-distance running, ballet, and high intensity interval training
- Arch abnormalities: having flat feet or high arches can overburden the plantar fascia
- Faulty foot mechanics
- Occupations that require you to be on your feet for a prolonged period of time, i.e. teachers, nurses, restaurant servers and factory workers. (see Who We Treat).
- Increased body mass index
Fortunately, a foot specialist can help you reduce some of these risk factors by finding you footwear and orthopaedic supports that reduce stress on the plantar fascia.
How Do I Prevent Plantar Fasciitis?
To prevent plantar fasciitis and heel pain, here are various foot care solutions to consider:
- Wear supportive shoes with good shock absorption and arch support: The plantar fascia is responsible for supporting the arches of our feet. Shoes with good arch support alleviate strain and excessive stress on the plantar fascia.
- Avoid high heels
- Replace worn-out running shoes
- Switch to lower-impact sports such as cycling or swimming
- Routinely stretch your arches, Achilles tendons, and calves
- Maintain a healthy body weight
Our specially catered selection of shoes at our foot clinic can help prevent plantar fasciitis by ensuring your foot is properly supported during your everyday activities. A chiropodist can also fit you for a custom pair of orthotics that can correct any biomechanical abnormalities that cause excess strain on the plantar fascia.
Our clinic store is open six days a week and offers a large selection of supportive footwear, athletic shoes, and sneakers (see What’s In Store). If you need assistance choosing shoes, drop-in shoe fitting is offered during clinic hours Monday-Friday and is a complimentary service.