To hear recent statistics tell it, up to 10 percent of adults and teens today may suffer from the foot and heel pain characteristic of plantar fasciitis. But just because plantar fasciitis is a relatively common health issue for both athletes and people from every walk of life doesn't mean that most people know what causes it, how to identify it or what to do to guard against it.
Whether you are a recreational athlete, a professional athlete or aspiring to become a professional athlete, it is vital to learn all you can about plantar fasciitis, what causes it, major symptoms and diagnostic procedures, how to prevent it and treatment options if you are affected.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Have you ever wondered what it is that connects the front of your foot to your heel bone? The major network of connective tissues that runs from the front to the back on the underside of your foot is called the plantar fascia.
This thick, fibrous band of connective, supportive tissue has a big job to do. It acts as a shock absorber when you run, jump, walk or move about. It keeps the whole structure of your foot in place. It supports the arch of your foot.
Because this tissue band has so many hats to wear, it can get worn out from overuse at times. When this happens, you may experience some or all of the symptoms listed below here and a doctor will diagnose you with a case of "plantar fasciitis."
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Despite all of the information medical researchers have gathered about the plantar fascia, its role, how it works and what can aggravate it, sometimes it is still a mystery as to what actually triggers plantar fasciitis to develop.
Both athletes and non-athletes can get it. Sometimes it develops from cases of chronic overuse and sometimes a one-time event, such as a fun run for charity or a hike while you are on vacation, or any unusual one-time weight-bearing activity, may trigger it.
What Are the Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
While doctors aren't always certain exactly why or how plantar fasciitis develops, what podiatrists, sports medicine professionals and orthopedist all seem to agree on is the basic set of symptoms patients experience.
The first and most obvious symptom is a sharp, sometimes stabbing pain that is often most painful first thing in the morning when you wake up. However, for most patients, the pain doesn't keep them awake or wake them up from sound sleep.
The pain and throbbing typically eases when you move about, but after any extended period of sitting, lying down or standing in one place, it will return and often worsen again. Trying to stretch and "work out" the foot muscles can also make the pain worse. Most patients report tenderness and/or pain when pressing on the sides, arch or heel of the foot. Wearing shoes with no arch support or sandals (flip flops) or going barefoot often also makes the pain of plantar fasciitis worse.
How Is Plantar Fasciitis Diagnosed?
It is important to get diagnosed properly if you suspect you are suffering from plantar fasciitis. When left untreated, plantar fasciitis can worsen and develop into tears or even a full rupture of the plantar fascia.
In most cases, diagnosis is made based on patient-reported symptoms and a medical examination by a qualified treatment professional. If there is doubt about the cause of your symptoms, your physician may order imaging tests to rule out other complicating factors, including a pinched nerve, a stress fracture or a heel spur.
What Treatments are Available for Plantar Fasciitis?
A number of treatments exist for plantar fasciitis pain. In most cases, surgery is not required to treat plantar fasciitis. Surgical intervention is typically viewed as a last resort if more conservative approaches to plantar fasciitis treatment do not alleviate the symptoms.
One of the most important steps to take to reduce plantar fasciitis symptoms is to be sure you are wearing footwear that provides proper foot, heel and arch support. Doctors frequently advise patients to wear orthotics (plantar fasciitis heel cups, heel supports or other specialized supportive footwear) to take the pressure off the plantar fascia so it can heal.
Another benefit of orthotics is that they can help to evenly distribute the weight on your foot as you walk and move, which over time can adjust the way you stand and walk. This in turn may reduce the risk of a repeat bout of plantar fasciitis in the future. In addition to daytime orthotics, you may be prescribed night-use splints that can help to stretch out your plantar fascia while you rest.
Physical therapy is often paired with day and night-use orthotics to help you stretch the ligaments and muscles in your feet and legs, use your orthotics and athletic tape effectively to guard against reinjury. Rest, icing the affected area and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory and pain medication such as NSAIDs are typically all that is prescribed to ease discomfort.
Can Plantar Fasciitis Be Prevented?
One question many athletes have is whether plantar fasciitis can be prevented. Wearing the right footwear with the proper structural support for the heel and arch can give you a great head start in preventing the plantar fascia tissue from becoming overworked, irritated or inflamed.
There are also physical therapy exercises you can learn to do that may help to prevent plantar fasciitis from occurring.
Maintaining an ideal body weight, taking appropriate rest in between workouts and sports events, eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated and avoiding going barefoot whenever possible can also go a long way towards protecting your feet from plantar fasciitis.
Perhaps most importantly, getting in the habit of wearing the right footwear with plantar fasciitis heel cups and proper arch support may prevent you from ever putting undue stress on the plantar fascia.
If you do start to feel some symptoms or pain that seems indicative of plantar fasciitis, seeking medical care right away can help to reverse the damage before it becomes severe.
Contact Defender Operations For Plantar Fasciitis Relief
The Heel Defender, ****Forefoot Defender, Foot Defender not for plantar fasciitis? and Defender Insole are one-of-a-kind orthotic solutions for plantar fasciitis symptoms and pain. Each device brings together the marvel of modern technology with the latest cutting-edge medical research to remedy pain from Plantar Fasciitis.
To learn more about heel cups for men and heel cups for women, contact us at 305-663-0217 or visit us online at heeldefender.com.