Plantar fasciitis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in the heel and sole of the foot. It occurs when the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that supports the arch of the foot, becomes strained or irritated. In most people, this condition is part of a normal aging process resulting from degeneration within the plantar fascia. It can be caused or worsened by overuse such as doing lots of running or long days standing and walking, improper footwear, excessive weight, or certain foot conditions.
The good news is that plantar fasciitis can often be managed and treated effectively with simple non-surgical measures. The following treatments can help alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and promote healing:
If you take the time to carry out the following treatments, especially the exercises, you should see some improvement in your symptoms in around 3-4 months. It does take time so stick with it!
Resting the affected foot and applying ice packs to the painful area can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Apply ice packs wrapped in a tea towel for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day. You can also try rolling a frozen 500ml bottle of water under the arch of your foot.
Over-the-counter pain medications such as Ibuprofen and paracetamol, taken regularly will help to improve your pain. Take the dose given on the packet at the required interval. Some people are advised not to take anti-inflammatories like Ibuprofen, so if you are unsure, please check with your pharmacist.
Wear supportive shoes with good arch support and cushioning. Basically, an athletic style trainer shoe is usually the best thing to wear as these are designed for both comfort and good support. Avoid high heels, flat and flimsy shoes such as pumps / flip flops / sandals, do not use very worn-out footwear with no cushioning left in the sole, and avoid walking bare foot on hard floors at home. These can all worsen the condition.
**These are the most important exercises you need to do to help you recover**
Heel drop exercises help stretch the plantar fascia and calf muscles. These are the most important exercise to perform and will help you to recover as quickly as possible. Here's how to perform them:
Stretching the plantar fascia can help reduce tension and promote flexibility. Follow these steps to perform plantar-specific stretches:
Usually, just wearing well supporting and cushioned footwear such as trainers is enough to support the plantar fascia. You can also try using a “silicone heel cup” to provide some additional shock absorbing and cushioning. These can be purchased on line.
In some cases, especially when this condition is associated with calf muscle tightness or is causing other problems with walking or weakness, some physiotherapy may be beneficial.
**This is really important**
Maintaining a healthy weight will reduce the strain on your feet and minimize the pressure on the plantar fascia. Weight loss if you are overweight is one of the most important measures you can take to help improve this condition.
First of all, it is important that you see someone who can make an accurate diagnosis of your condition before you begin treatment. This can be your own GP, a podiatrist or you can come to see a foot and ankle specialist at our clinic. There are other reasons why you may suffer from pain in and around the heels so it is vital to get the diagnosis correct.
This guide is intended for patients with a confirmed diagnosis of plantar fasciitis. Please do not use it if you have not been given this diagnosis by a profession. It is important not to self-diagnose as you may be wrong.