What is Plantar Fasciitis?

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I think we can all agree on how much we detest it, but what really is plantar fasciitis anyway?

Plantar Fasciitis is a common form of chronic heel pain in the ball of your foot. Caused by a degenerative process where many micro-tears along the plantar fascia are unable to heal themselves naturally.

Look:

You would think that a condition affecting 10% of all people, would be have more cause for concern, alas, it does not.

Causes And Risk Factors

Athletes have a high risk of Plantar Fasciitis if they have a tendency to increase duration, intensity, or distance of workouts. Running on hard, or inclined surfaces can also exacerbate the situation.

Even for non athletes, improper footwear (shoes) can also cause problems, tight toe boxes, poor arch support, worn cushioning (pro tip, harder/sturdier cushioning lasts much longer and actually results in less pain than super soft heel cushioning)

Changing shoes often and lessening stress on your feet can reduce the risks of Plantar Fasciitis.

Less common risk factors are covered in my Causes of Plantar Fasciitis post.

Resolution

Most cases of Plantar Fasciitis will resolve on their own within a few weeks rest, but some cases will take months to heal.  Although Plantar Fasciitis does tend to self correct eventually, the healing process is slow and can have many set backs. Did you know over plantar fasciitis results in 1 million doctor visits and takes around $290 million to cover medical costs of US citizens?

Treatment

Tennis Balls
Tennis balls are one of the more common things used to treat Plantar Fasciitis

Quick fix treatment options for Plantar Fasciitis are nonexistent and the best option for resolution is generally unmanageable for most sufferers.

For the “further along” state of Plantar Fasciitis, Heel Spurs may need to be surgically removed to remedy the pain caused. In most cases, the pain is simply caused by the micro-tears mentioned earlier.

Commonly prescribed treatments for the micro-tears and inflammation:

  • Insoles or shoes with proper arch support
  • Stretching
  • Icing
  • Taping / Strapping
  • Acupuncture
  • Essential Oils
  • Resting the feet (no walking to work!)
  • Compression
  • Elevation
  • Rolling a tennis ball under the arch of your foot

Other Names

There are some other common names for Plantar Fasciitis which you may have already heard of, or searched for on your way here:

  • Heel Spurs (Please note, this is actually a separate condition)
  • Jogger’s Heel
  • Policeman’s Heel
  • Tennis Heel
  • And even Gonorrheal Heel (yuck)

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