What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a common foot condition that occurs when your plantar fascia becomes inflamed and thickened, causing pain and discomfort. This thick band of tissue connects your heel bone to the other bones in your foot, and it’s responsible for supporting your foot and absorbing the impact of everyday activities such as walking and exercise.
Plantar fasciitis affects all ages, but it’s more common amongst over 40s, women and athletes. It usually occurs as a result of small reoccurring injuries to your plantar fascia. These injuries can be caused by shoes that don’t offer enough support or cushioning, excess weight, a tight Achilles tendon and overuse, amongst other things.
What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?
The symptoms of plantar fasciitis can occur in one or both feet. They usually worsen slowly overtime and you may experience the following warning signs:
- Stiffness and/or tenderness around the affected area
- Pain underneath your foot or heel, particularly following periods of rest or being on your feet for prolonged periods
- This pain may be sharp or a dull ache, and it may become more intense when you walk on tiptoes or up stairs
- In rare cases plantar fasciitis can develop into a rupture – a tear in the ligament – causing acute pain and swelling
If these symptoms sound familiar, you should seek medical advice and make an appointment with your GP.
What are the treatments for plantar fasciitis?
Usually your plantar fascia will heal, albeit slowly, by itself. But there some things you can do to give it a helping hand.
These include rest, wearing comfortable shoes with good arch support and cushioning (you can buy insoles to help with this), and gentle stretching to relieve any tightness. Stretching will loosen not only your plantar fascia, but also your Achilles tendon, which can sometimes pull on the plantar fascia – exacerbating your symptoms.
Ibuprofen can help to relieve your pain, and will also work as an anti-inflammatory. Some individuals also find that applying ice helps to ease their symptoms. If pain persists, steroid injections can be used to provide longer-term relief, with the effects lasting for several weeks.
In some cases, particularly where pain persists for over 12 months, surgery may be required to release your plantar fasciitis and relieve tension. Your GP will be able to refer you to Mr Nirav Shah for an orthopaedic consultation, or you can book a private consultation with us directly. During your consultation Mr Shah will carry out a thorough diagnosis and provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision about your treatment and care.
If you would benefit from surgery, this can usually be carried out as a day case using a technique known as arthroscopy, which is also known as keyhole surgery. This approach helps to minimise discomfort, reduce recovery times and help you get back on your feet as quickly as possible.