Plantar Fasciitis: Common Causes and Treatments

Most Common Causes of Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis is a condition of inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is located on the sole of your foot from your heel to the toes.

Plantar Fasciitis can cause pain located on the bottom of your foot, mainly in three areas:

  1. Forefoot.
  2. Arch of the foot.
  3. Heel.

The symptoms of plantar fasciitis usually develop gradually over time.

A common symptom is a pain in the heel or arch of the foot that is worse when you first get out of bed in the morning or after sitting or standing for a long time.

Sometimes the pain runs alongside the three different parts of the plantar fascia:

  1. Side of the Foot
  2. Middle of the Foot
  3. Inner Foot

The pain may also be worse after or during high-intensity exercise.

In some cases, plantar fasciitis can cause other symptoms, such as:

  • Swelling in the heel or arch of the foot.
  • Tenderness in the heel and sole of the foot.
  • Numbness or tingling in the foot.

The most common cause of plantar fasciitis is an overuse or repetitive strain on the plantar fascia.

There are other risk factors that can be at the same time the principal cause or concause of plantar fasciitis, such as:

  • Flat Foot
  • Low or High Arch
  • Valgus Ankle
  • Allux Valgus
  • Overweight
  • Tight or weak foot flexors ( Calf Muscle, Soleus Muscle, and all the other Plantar Flexors Muscles ).
  • Certain types of footwear such as shoes with high heels.

Anatomical abnormalities of the foot such as flat foot, Allux Valgus, and Ankle Valgus are the most common cause of receding Plantar Fasciitis.

Foot Anatomy

The plantar fascia is made of collagen, a protein that gives it strength and elasticity. The plantar fascia helps to support the arch of the foot and absorb shock when walking or running.

The plantar fascia is divided into three parts:

  1.  Lateral Compartment: Here are located the Adductor Digiti Minimi Muscle, Flexor Digiti Minimi Brevi Muscle, and Opponens Digiti Minimi Muscle.
  2. Intermediate Compartment: Here are located the Flexor Digitorum Brevis Muscle, Flexor Digitorum Longus Muscle’s Tendons, Quadratus Plantae Muscle, and Lumbrical Muscles.
  3. Medial Compartment: Here are located the Abductor Allucis Muscle, the Flexor Allucis Brevis Muscle, and the Flexor Allucis Longus Muscle’s Tendon
Plantar Fascia Anatomy

Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis

The first approach to cure plantar fasciitis is to treat its symptoms.

There are a number of treatments available for plantar fasciitis symptoms, including:

  • Rest: When there is an active inflammation we have to stop to stress further muscles, tendons, and fascias of the foot.
  • Ice: Ice therapy helps to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation.
  • Compression: Using a bandage to compress and stabilize both the foot and ankle can help to reduce swelling and reduce pain during walking.
  • Elevation: Elevating your foot can help the blood flow and increase the waste cells’ removal of the inflammation process.
  • Over-the-counter pain medication: Anti-inflammatory drugs can help to reduce the pain. Ask always for the advice of your doctor or trusted physiotherapist.
  • Physical therapy: Both physiotherapy and sports therapy such as Sports Massage can help to reduce pain, and muscle stiffness, and improve both muscle flexibility and joint mobility.

When there is long-term plantar fasciitis, where the patient has experienced many recedes, we have to change approach to the cure it.

We have to find the root causes of the plantar fasciitis and treat them.

Most of the time, long-term plantar fasciitis comes from a structural issue of the foot or ankle such as a flat foot, low or high arch, or hallux valgus as discussed above.

One of the best methods to assess this kind of structural issue of the foot is a feet pressures scan or a high-tech posture assessment.

These assessments will be able to provide us with dozens of analytical data to identify all the possible causes of stress or anatomical anomalies of the foot and ankle.

Once we have identified all the root causes of our plantar fasciitis, we can treat them and, eventually, set up a specific exercise rehabilitation program.

Runner's Plantar Fasciitis from Flat Feet: Case Study

I would like to show you a case study of recurrent plantar fasciitis in a runner.

He decided to get to the bottom of the issue with a running assessment to check what was wrong with his running technique and his feet, after experiencing recurrent plantar fasciitis on his right foot.

Apart from all his running technical issues, the most important cause of his recurrent plantar fasciitis was his grade 3 flat feet.

In the first image above, you can see a 3d feet pressures scan that highlights the excessive forces acting in the middle of the right foot ( Green Spot ).

In the second image above there is the entire feet pressure scan report. We can see here, inside the red circle, a peak of forces acting on the lateral and intermediate compartments of the right foot.

In fact, the focus pain symptoms of the runner were localized in that area of the foot ( arch and heel ).

Prevention of Plantar Fasciitis

Here are some tips to help prevent plantar fasciitis:

  • Keep health your feet: If you are a sedentary person or you have a desk job, try to regularly exercise your feet and legs with some walking, jogging, running, and cycling.
  • Stretching: Doing some foot and calf stretching can help to reduce muscle tension and improve foot and ankle flexibility.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese: Losing only some kilograms too can help to reduce the load on your feet and so the chances to get feet pain.
  • Use shoes with good padding function.
  • Self-Massage: You can use a tennis ball to self-massage the arch of your feet rolling it alongside your sole.
  • Preventive Sports Therapy: you could get preventive sports massage or deep tissue massage to prevent the accumulation of muscle tension and increase foot flexibility and ankle mobility.
  • Thermal Shock Therapy: When you have foot pain or soreness, this is a very good home remedy to decrease muscle stiffness, pain, swelling, and inflammation.
  • Foam Rolling: Use the foam roll on the calf muscle, Achilles, and sole of your foot. This is good at reducing muscle tension and improving blood flow.

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