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Plantar Fasciitis


A Monthly Foot Fact from Foot.com

It's no fun when your feet hurt, and heel pain, arch pain and heel spurs are some of the most common complaints of foot pain sufferers. Often, these conditions are caused by a disorder called plantar fasciitis.

According to Dr. Suzanne Belyea, Medical Director of Foot.com, the classic symptom for plantar fasciitis is sharp pain when taking the first steps out of bed in the morning. This pain is the result of an inflammation caused by excessive stretching of a broad band of fibrous tissue (plantar fascia) which runs along the bottom surface of the foot, from the heel bone to the forefoot. While a person with plantar fasciitis sleeps, the plantar fascia tightens and shrinks, causing the first morning step to pull and cause pain.

"You see this condition a lot in people who deal with obesity or flat feet," says Dr. Belyea. "There are a variety of ways you can end up with this condition. It can develop over time, or can be the result of a direct injury."

Some causes of plantar fasciitis include:

- Over-pronation (flat feet), which result in the arch collapsing when bearing weight
- A foot with an unusually high arch
- A sudden increase in physical activity
- Excessive weight on the foot, usually attributed to obesity or pregnancy
- Improperly fitting footwear

Flat feet are the leading cause of plantar faciitis. During the walking process, when a person's arch collapses under the person's weight, the plantar fascia is stretched away from the heel bone.

According to Dr. Belyea, plantar fasciitis can be successfully treated. She recommends applying heat to the area to loosen up the tissue, with 10 minutes of heat application alternating with 10 minutes off the heat. Mild stretching of the area and keeping a support next to your bed so that the first morning steps do not stretch the foot as severely can also help.

When the cause is flat feet, an orthotic with rearfoot posting and longitudinal arch support can effectively reduce the over-pronation and allow the condition to heel. Dr. Belyea recommends asking your pharmacist or podiatrist for a posted orthotic, which is raised on the inside aspect of the heel.

People with usually high arches should cushion the heel, absorb shock and wear proper footwear, such as athletic shoes with high arches, that will accommodate and comfort the foot.

Other common treatments include plantar fasciitis night splints and elevating the heel with the use of a heel cradle or heel cup.

As for prevention, keep in mind that every time your foot strikes the ground, the plantar fascia is stretched. You can reduce the strain and stress on the plantar fascia by avoiding running on hard or uneven ground, losing excess weight, and wearing shoes and orthotics that support your arch.

If problem persists, consult your foot doctor. For more information, visit www.foot.com.

Foot.com is dedicated to educating the public about foot health, creating forums for consumers to communicate with foot health professionals, and most importantly, eliminating unnecessary foot pain. To learn more, visit Foot.com

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last update: July 2008



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