Plantar Fasciitis / Heel pain

What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis (which is often referred to simply as heel pain) is a very common podiatric condition, often arising in middle age. The plantar fascia is a tough, fibrous structure that lies just below the skin and fat pad of the heel. It attaches to the heel bone and fans out towards its other attachment at the joints between the forefoot bones (metatarsals) and toes (phalanges). Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia becomes inflamed at its origin on the heel or along its length. This inflammation is what causes the heel pain.

What causes plantar fasciitis?

The plantar fascia is one of a number of structures that maintains the main arch of the foot. If we liken the arch of our foot to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the plantar fascia is like the roadway. When we stand and bear weight our arch is placed under load. The result is a tendency for the arch of our foot to flatten out. In turn this causes the plantar fascia to tighten and pull away from the heel bone. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the fibres attaching to the heel bone become inflamed as a result of this load being applied. When the foot is rested (such as while we are sleeping) the heel pain is relieved. As soon as the foot is placed under load again by standing up and bearing weight the heel pain returns. Often the pain is worst first thing in the morning. It has been suggested that certain activities, foot types and footwear may predispose people to plantar fasciitis but this remains uncertain.

How long does plantar fasciitis take to resolve?

The bad news is that if left untreated, plantar fasciitis often takes many months to resolve. The good news is that with the correct treatment, the heel pain associated with plantar fasciitis can be brought under control quickly.

How is plantar fasciitis treated?

Plantar fasciitis is commonly treated in a number of ways. These include

  • Massage
  • Icing
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Relative rest
  • Weight loss
  • Customised foot orthotics

Heel Pain and Plantar Fasciitis Treatment

The staff at Hills District Podiatry are experts at treating plantar fasciitis and the heel pain it causes. After assessing your condition a treatment protocol will be suggested. In some cases an ultrasound examination will be requested to confirm a diagnosis. A combination of the basic treatments are often commenced immediately. Specially designed, fully customised foot orthotics are often prescribed by our staff and these are very useful when other treatments have not reduced the heel pain.

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