Plantar fasciitis (PF) is inflammation of the plantar fascia. This is a strong supporting ligament-like tissue which attaches to your calcaneum (heel bone) and runs along the arch of your foot to the heads of your metatarsal bones (where your toes meet the mid bones of your feet). The plantar fascia supports your foot and acts like a shock absorber. Around 1 in 10 people will develop it at some point.
People commonly present with PF when their plantar fascia has come under excessive stress and strain and overuse. This is often by standing for long periods or being on your feet for a long time. Runners and those who do exercises which cause high-impact on the foot commonly may experience this.
How to prevent PF
You can reduce your risk of getting PF by minimising the strain you put your plantar facia under. One of the key things is by wearing the correct footwear which supports your arch. A tight Achilles tendon can reduce your ability to flex your ankle which puts strain on your plantar fascia and can lead to PF. You can reduce your changes of this by wearing the correct footwear to stop your feet rolling in or outwards. If you have tight Achilles tendons eg. from wearing high shoes all the time or by not adequately warming up and stretching after exercise then this can reduce your ability to flex your ankle and increase your risk of PF.
Essential Sports in Leamington Spa can check your gait by monitoring you on a treadmill and help you chose the best footwear for comfort and to minimise injury. We also have specialised footwear shops, Shuropody and Shoemed, with people who are trained to ensure you get the best footwear to prevent problems or help reduce existing problems. Running on softer surfaces or shorter distances may help. Being over-weight can also increase the risk PF.
- Initial treatment usually consists of resting the foot as much as possible and avoiding running and high impact activities.
- Wear footwear that supports you arch and cushions your heel when you are out and at home. Avoid walking barefoot.
- Arch supports, insoles and heel pads are available. It may help to see a podiatrist.
- Pain relief over-the-counter such as paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen in tablet, gel or cream may help. Some people find an ice pack helpful.
- Gentle stretching exercises of the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon can help and for some people physiotherapy.
- Steroid injections may be used when the ‘conservative’ measures do not help, but do carry some risks.
Acupuncture for plantar fasciitis
When you experience pain in an area it can be caused by many things e.g. damage to muscles, nerves, fascia, viscera etc. The problem can be where the pain is or it can be ‘transferred’ from other areas or ‘triggered’ by using other muscles or parts of the body.
The assessment of plantar fascial pain and treatment plan is based on taking a good history and examination and finding out whether the problem is ‘solely in the sole’ or whether it is caused by associated problems e.g. Achilles tendon, calf, knee or even hip and back problems. Acupuncture needles can be inserted in traditional acupuncture points, trigger points (a part elsewhere in the body that when examined causes the plantar fascial pain) and tender points (areas that are tender elsewhere and thought to be connected to the problem). Electro-acupuncture may also be used.
For further information see below:
The College of Podiatry https://cop.org.uk/foot-health/common-foot-problems/heel-pain/
Essential Sports 93 Warwick Road, Leamington Spa CV32 LRJ 01926 883697
ShoeMed in Stratford-Upon-Avon https://shoemed.co.uk/