Plantar fasciitis is an injury to the plantar fascia located in the sole of the foot leading to painful inflammation in the area. The plantar fascia is a connective tissue that forms the arch of the foot. The plantar fascia extends from the bottom of the heel bone to the sole of the foot and terminates at the toes. When the planter fascia is overused, it leads to a tear in the tendon that leads to more injury at the cellular level.
Plantar fasciitis is known to be the inflammation of the plantar fascia, but the true pathophysiological mechanism of the condition does not involve inflammation or swelling because the tendon does not have a blood supply. Instead, the damage to the plantar fascia also may cause tension and injury to the adjacent tissues leading to inflammation of the surrounding structures.
Causes of Plantar fasciitis
Since the plantar fascia forms the sole of the feet, conditions in the feet usually lead to such. Common causes include:
- Obesity or being overweight
When a person is overweight or obese, the weight placed on the foot is greater making the plantar fascia at risk for tears.
- Long periods of weight bearing
Those who employ weight lifting and occupations involving lifting heavy weights for prolonged periods can also lead to plantar fasciitis because of the pressure placed on the soles of the feet.
- Presence of flat foot or high arches
Both the presence of flat feet and high arches can lead to plantar fasciitis because the fascia is overly stretched in both conditions.
- Presence of tight Achilles tendon
The Achilles tendon is the tendon found just above the heels. When this is tight, the plantar fascia is usually drawn backwards leading to tearing in the long run.
- Running downhill or uphill or running in uneven surfaces
When the foot strokes an uneven surface, chances are the fascia will also receive more tension and stretch.
- Use of improper running shoes
Shoes that do not support the feet adequately may not be able to protect the delicate plantar fascia against stress.
Symptoms of Plantar fasciitis
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include pain on the soles of the feet that is most severe in the morning when the affected individual makes his or her first steps. The pain is felt commonly under the heel where the heel bone presses against the injure tendon. The pain is also aggravated by standing and sitting for prolonged periods and by intense activities such as climbing the stairs. Since the plantar fascia is torn, the person may also not be able to bend the foot downward causing the toes to be brought toward the shin.
Since the plantar fascia also receives weight and tension during walking, people with plantar fasciitis may also suffer knee pains as the tension is concentrated on the knee joint to avoid pain on the heels.
Plantar fasciitis may cause difficulty in moving the feet so treatments are usually employed immediately after the condition is specifically identified using various tests. Treatments may involve rest, use of pain relievers, ice packs, night splints and using protective footwear to support the fascia and allow the area to heal.