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Plantar Fasciitis

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

By Dr. Doug

Plantar Fasciitis is the medical term for a painful foot condition commonly known as “heel spurs”. A telltale symptom of plantar fasciitis is a sharp pain near the heel when you first wake up. The pain may subside as you walk around, but sit for a few minutes and the pain comes back.

The term plantar fasciitis means inflammation of the plantar fascia - the tough band of tissue that helps hold up the long arch of the foot. Improper mechanics in the foot and ankle, like pronation (rolling of the ankle toward the inside of the foot) places strain on the plantar fascia. It becomes irritated, then inflamed. Then it actually starts to pull off the heel bone… hence the pain. The term "heel spurs" comes from what is seen if your foot is x-rayed. A bony spur seems to come off the heel. This is a symptom of plantar fasciitis, not a cause of the pain. These spurs can develop if there has been inflammation of the plantar fascia for a long period of time.

Treatment of plantar fasciitis consists of a couple of steps:

1) First, someone suffering with plantar fasciitis should NEVER walk around without shoes on. Being flat-footed puts more strain on the plantar fascia. Not only wearing footwear, but wearing something with a heel that is about 1-2 inches takes strain off the plantar fascia. The only time to be barefooted is in the shower or in bed.

2) To help the pain and inflammation, put a 500ml water bottle in the freezer. Once frozen, roll the foot gently on the bottle. This will gently massage the tight muscles of the foot, and will reduce inflammation.

3) If plantar fasciitis is severe, laser therapy is a good way to reduce the inflammation. 1-2 treatments per week for a couple weeks will help to reduce the pain and discomfort.

4) If wearing a proper shoe isn’t enough to completely get rid of the plantar fasciitis, a custom orthotic insert will help it heal and then prevent it from coming back.

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