The Risk Factors, Common Causes, and Physical Signs of Plantar Fasciitis
Compared to a generation ago, or even just as far back to the time when mobile phones were still in the research and development stage, there can be little doubt that the pace of life today can be frenetic if not outright chaotic. With the advent of extended business hours, all-day fitness centres, entertainment complexes, megamalls, and more, people in Toronto and the surrounding area have no shortage of enticements and opportunities to always be on the move.
And while the above description may first bring to mind images of traffic congestion and associated driver and passenger frustration, a deeper look, so to speak, will demonstrate that people on-the-go also spend a significant amount of time on their feet, whether it is walking, running/jogging, exercising, or just standing in lines or on public transportation.
Thus it is little wonder that the term plantar fasciitis has become more commonplace in daily conversations and communications over the last several years; and such references are generally the result of people discussing their experiences with foot pain or heel pain caused by the strain of spending undue amounts of time on their feet each/every day.
In more explicit terms, plantar fasciitis is a condition that results when the ligament (the plantar fascia) that extends from the heel bone to the toes becomes inflamed due to an excessive amount of pressure on the foot; as an aside, the word fasciitis is the medical term for inflammation of this ligament. Very often, the plantar fascia can actually tear or rupture; and anyone who has ever experienced plantar fascia pain will unquestionably attest that it can be excruciating and even debilitating.
There are several risk factors that can be linked to plantar fasciitis; these would include:
- Age – more often seen in people between 40 and 60 years
- Foot anatomy – particularly relative to structure of the arch
- Choice of footwear – lack of support, high heels, pointed toes
- Periods of prolonged standing; certain types of physical exercise
- Obesity – excessive weight will place undue pressure on the feet
Some of the more common signs of plantar fascia strain, tear, or rupture will consist of:
- Cramps, spasms, or tightness in the foot
- The inability to bear any weight on the foot
- A hot/burning feeling along the base of the foot
- Heel pain, often upon first standing or getting out of bed
- Calcium build-up on the bottom of the heel bone (heel spur)
Trying to endure plantar fascia pain or, worse-case scenario, ignoring it altogether can in fact compound the damage to the feet/heels and also extend to the legs and lower back. It is therefore important to address this situation with an appropriate degree of urgency, including at-home exercises and/or consultation with a foot care specialist from Comfort Stride Foot Care Clinic in Toronto.
The Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis Includes Several Distinct Steps or Phases
The treatment of plantar fasciitis consists of a step-wise regimen that first alleviates the plantar fascia pain then works on addressing the condition itself. The ultimate success of the process will also be dependent on the perseverance and persistence of the patient in each the steps/phases; this process includes:
- Pain Management
- Limiting/avoiding activities that are causing the pain
- Application of ice to reduce swelling and inflammation
- Inflammation Management
- Anti-inflammatory medication plus continued application of ice
- Icing can be done via ice pack, frozen bottle of water, or bag of frozen veggies
- Repairing the Damage
- Protecting and strengthening the foot and ankle
- This includes a number of exercises for stretching/massaging the plantar fascia
- Stretching: bending the foot upward and gently pulling on the toes for several seconds at a time, then repeating this routine a few times per foot
- Massaging: putting a soft rubber or tennis ball under the arch of the foot and rolling the ball around for a few minutes daily while gently applying pressure
- Flexing (calves): looping a towel around the ball of the foot and gently pulling up toward the body; holding for several seconds and repeating a few times
- Applying ice to reduce any swelling/inflammation should continue during this step
- Long-Term Maintenance
- Continuation of the plantar fascia exercises as above
- Periodic reassessments by a certified foot care professional
Foot and heel pain from plantar fasciitis can be rather detrimental to one’s quality of life; however, implementing the above-noted treatment regimen and plantar fascia exercises might not be sufficient to resolve the situation entirely. If the foot/heel pain persists and continues to restrict mobility and/or physical activity, individuals may find benefit from a professional consultation with a qualified podiatrist from Comfort Stride Foot Care Clinic.
In such instances, the podiatrist can help identify the root cause of the pain then suggest alternative plantar fasciitis treatment options that can include one/more of the following:
- Custom orthotics
- Different footwear
- Lifestyle modifications
- Additional foot/leg exercises
- Physiotherapy or hot/cold therapy
For additional information on the treatment of plantar fasciitis or heel pain by a certified podiatrist at Comfort Stride Foot Care Clinic, go to Foot Care Services
If you are suffering from plantar fascia pain that is negatively affecting your mobility and your quality of life, call the Comfort Stride Foot Care Clinic today at 647-989-7794 to book a consultation with a qualified podiatrist to determine the best course of treatment.