Plantar fasciitis or Heel pain
Plantar fasciitis is a very common problem. Many patients decide to self-treat for six months to a year sometimes before seeking professional help. These self-treatments are often very poor and often do not lead to resolution of symptoms.
First things first, when having heel pain, plantar fasciitis is just one of many causes of heel pain. The many structures in and around the heel can be the cause of the heel pain. There is also a condition called radiculopathy where there is referred pain from nerves in the lower back. Having said that, the most common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a band of connective tissue that starts at the heel bone and attaches into the toes via the plantar plates:
When the plantar fascia gets overstrained microtears and inflammation will form. There is also a mechanism of degeneration of the diseased tissue. Over time the inflammatory process will stop and be replaced by scar tissue. Often the pain will continue.
The cause of your heel pain
Causes of plantar fasciitis can be your foot type, low or high arch profile, overtraining, putting on weight, prolonged standing, poor foot wear or foot wear not suitable for you and injuries of the foot and ankle.
Some other problems that could be your heel pain are Achilles tendinopathy, subcutaneous bursitis, heel bone fracture, peroneal tendinopathy, tarsal tunnel syndrome (nerve entrapment), posterior tibial tendinopathy, heel pad bruising and tumours to mention a few.
For plantar fasciitis home treatments can include taping the foot (low dye taping) and stretching exercises. You can take NSAIDS for short term pain relief.
Standing Calf Stretch
- Stand placing hands on wall for support. Place your feet pointing straight ahead, with the involved foot in back of the other. The back leg should have a straight knee and front leg a bent knee. Shift forward, keeping back leg heel on the ground, so that you feel a stretch in the calf muscle of the back leg.
- Hold 45 seconds, 2-3 times. Repeat 4-6 times per day.
Toe Extension and Arch Massage
- Sit with involved leg crossed over uninvolved leg. Grasp toes with one hand and bend the toes and ankle upwards as far as possible to stretch the arch and calf muscle. With the other hand, perform deep massage along the arch of your foot.
- Hold 10 seconds. Repeat for 2-3 minutes. Repeat 2-4 sessions per day.
These exercises can in some cases solve the problem entirely. You can try these exercises at home for a few weeks. If they are not solving your problem you should consider booking in to see us at the foot clinic. We can then offer you a proper foot and ankle assessment with a detailed treatment program.
We can offer
- Insoles or orthotics. These are arch supports especially made for you (we also do ready made devices)
- Exercise prescription tailored for you
- Steroid injections for quick pain relief
- Shockwave treatment. You can read about this here: Heel pain treatment