Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the tough fascia that forms the arch of the foot. This thick fascia connects the heel to the toes in order to provide strength and support to the bottom of feet. It also acts as a body weight shock absorber. Plantar fasciitis is a fairly disabling condition that makes locomotion or movement very difficult and painful.
Plantar Fasciitis Signs and Symptoms:
The signs and symptoms of plantar fasciitis vary according to the time of the day, activity status and stage of illness. The most prominent features include:
- Pain and stiffness of the feet that is worse in the morning. Most people experience the worst pain as soon as they get out of bed. The pain is sharp and stabbing in nature.
- An increase in the intensity of pain with moderate to high activity, prolonged standing or after climbing stairs.
- The symptoms may be unilateral (involving only one foot) or bilateral (involving both feet).
How Does Plantar Fasciitis Develop?
Plantar fasciitis is invariably ranked as one of the top causes of disabling heel pain. It occurs as the result of prolonged overuse of the feet that leads to over-stretching or distension of the plantar fascia, leading to fasciitis. The fascia itself is the toughest ligamentous support of the foot that is continually subjected to stress, strain and pressure during walking and even at rest. However, when the strain is not evenly distributed along the lines of fascia, swelling and irritation occurs. This makes the ligamentous support weak and vulnerable to damage. Plantar fasciitis is seen in both genders and most cases are reported in individuals between 40 and 60 years of age, though it can also occur in younger age groups.
Increased risk factors for development of plantar fasciitis:
- Biomechanical arch dysfunctions, i.e. flat feet or high arches
- Running on uneven ground or with improper running shoes that do not support the arches, especially over long distances
- Wearing worn out or ill-fitted shoes (too small)
- Obesity or weight gain
- Women who are pregnant and experiencing sudden weight gain
- A highly dynamic or active lifestyle, i.e. soldiers, teachers, ballet dancers and athletes
- Inherently tight or stiff calf muscles or tight Achilles tendons, especially in women who wear high heels regularly
- Walking with excessive pronation or by rolling feet inwards.