Plantar fasciitis is a common orthopedic condition for adults. Every year, more than a million people complain about heel pain that may cause mild to severe discomfort.
Lack of awareness on how to diagnose plantar fasciitis may have a debilitating effect on work and lifestyle. Knowing what causes the condition, as well as how to treat it, may prevent these from happening.
Keeping the foot prone in long periods of time or standing and running excessively are some of the factors that result to this disorder. Damage in the plantar fascia ligament is the main cause of plantar fasciitis. These bands of tissues act as shock absorbers and provide support to the arch of the foot. Too much wear and tear on the ligaments leads to inflammation that triggers the pain and stiffness.
Obese or overweight people are at a greater risk of developing plantar fasciitis. The increased pressure due to sudden weight gain causes too much strain to the ligaments. Pregnant women in their last trimester will likewise experience bouts of pain in the bottom of their heel.
Athletes, especially long distance runners are also prone to this condition. This is the same for workers who are frequently on their feet, such as restaurant servers. Men and women with active lifestyles aged forty to seventy are similarly at the highest risk. In some cases, those who have foot problems like those with flat feet, high arches and tight Achilles tendons may experience plantar fascia pain.
Those who suffer from plantar fasciitis often complain of pain and stiffness in the bottom of their heel that gradually develops over time. Some describe a dull pain, while others feel a burning sensation on the bottom of the foot spreading towards the heel.
This pain is usually worse after sitting or lying down for a long time, just like in the morning when getting out of bed. It starts with a minor stiffness. Gradually, the discomfort increases after prolonged activities, with the pain manifesting as you rest.
How to diagnose plantar fasciitis can be easily answered, once the patient knows what to look out for. If still unsure of the condition, however, a doctor may perform a physical exam. X-rays or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan may be ordered to exclude other ailments that may cause the heel pain, like bone fracture.
Reducing inflammation is an important treatment for the damaged plantar fascia ligament. Some of the home treatments may include staying off the feet and applying ice to reduce swelling. This may be done for fifteen to twenty minutes, three to four times a day. If total rest is impossible, a heel pad may also be used to cushion the painful area.
Stretching exercises three to five times a day may likewise help. If necessary, patients may take pain relievers like ibuprofen and other over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
If plantar fasciitis is unresponsive to typical treatments, the doctor may suggest injecting steroid directly to the tissue around the heel. Shock wave therapy may also be considered to stimulate the healing of the torn ligaments.
If the condition has not improved after six months or longer, surgical options may be discussed.