Plantar Fasciitis is a joint heel pain due to the plantar fascia’s inflammation – a flat rubber band of tissue (ligament) that starts from the heel connecting to the toes. It absorbs the repeated strain from the act of walking and running. Overstraining the plantar fascia inevitably leads to its inflammation along with constant pain.
About one in ten people experience plantar fasciitis in their lives. It is more likely to be seen in middle-aged people as they have weaker ligaments than the younger age group; however, it’s still common among them – specifically from athletes and soldiers – due to the excessive training.
What Are the Main Causes for Plantar Fasciitis?
The plantar fascia starts tearing when it becomes weak from too much pressure and stretching damages.
But it’s not all because a person walks or runs a lot; other few reasons can weaken the plantar fascia.
Here are seven leading causes of plantar fasciitis.
Sports that require people to use their heels more – running or dancing – put a lot more pressure on the plantar fascia than the average person’s walking or running. Athletes who play competitively are at a higher risk as they are bombarded with training regimes that continually push them to their limits to get better and better at their sport. Casual athletes who play for fun and passion are also at risk of inflaming their plantar fascia if they aren’t mindful of their footwear and health before and after exercising.
2. Absence of calf stretching
Stretching the body’s critical parts is something athletes always do before their training to prevent injuries. The correct extension keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy. Without stretching, calf muscles shorten and become tight, becoming weak and unable to extend, which is terrible for your Achilles tendon – heel cord, attaches calf muscles to the heel bone. The Achilles tendon is responsible for standing on their feet and allows the foot to point downward. When both the Achilles tendon and calf muscle weaken, more pressure is added to the plantar fascia.
People who constantly move are not the only ones at risk of plantar fasciitis. People who are overweight and obese are at a higher risk of plantar fasciitis. According to the WHO, overweight and obesity is defined as an abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that threatens a person’s health. A person with a body mass index (BMI) of over 25 is considered overweight, and over 30 is obese. Being overweight and obese places extra weight on your plantar fascia, weakening it quickly.
This study on the association between body mass index (BMI) and musculoskeletal foot disorders found a strong connection with being overweight and having chronic plantar fasciitis and foot pain in general.
4. Structural foot problems
Genetics are to blame for these causes of plantar fasciitis. People who are cavus-footed (very high-arched foot) or flat-footed may develop plantar fasciitis. An excessive amount of weight is placed on the ball and the foot’s heel when a cavus-footed person walks or stands. Flat-footed people over-pronate their feet – rolling the feet to their inner side when walking or standing; both contribute a repeated strain on the plantar fascia.
5. Wearing shoes that don’t support your feet
The shoe’s primary function is to cushion a person’s body weight which protects the plantar fascia from unwanted pressure. That is why it is essential to always try on the shoes before buying them to see if they fit nicely on your feet because a specific pair of shoes might work well for someone else; it doesn’t immediately mean they will be an excellent fit for you.
It’s also worth mentioning that shoes that are worn out can create issues that lead to and end up becoming a cause of plantar fasciitis. It is ideal to replace your often-worn and heavily used shoes every six months or year (depending on the shoe quality and how long they hold up) to maintain that protection.
6. Increase in age
Middle-aged and older adults are likely to develop plantar fasciitis. With age, bones shrink in size and density, resulting in them being weak and more susceptible to fracture, leading to older people getting shorter in height and muscles losing their strength and size than the younger age group. Without the muscles’ endurance and flexibility, a person’s coordination, stability, and balance are hugely impacted, affecting the plantar fascia, which is also losing the same qualities, developing plantar fasciitis.
Pregnancy happens when a fetus has started developing inside a woman’s womb or uterus, which usually lasts for 40 weeks or just over nine months, as measured from the last menstrual period to delivery. Generally, a woman pregnant of over 20 weeks will start gaining weight from carrying the fetus. Just like obesity, being overweight puts extra pressure and stress on the plantar fascia. The later the stage of the pregnancy, the higher the woman’s weight, which translates to the highest risk stage of developing plantar fasciitis.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
People with plantar fasciitis don’t usually feel the pain during the activity – standing, walking, or running – but rather experience the pain after the action happens. Plantar fasciitis usually affects just one foot, but it has been reported to affect both feet. Patients complain they experience both dull pain and stabbing pain at the heel’s bottom or sometimes at the bottom mid-foot area.
Plantar fasciitis develops overtime slowly from prolonged activity; its symptoms include:
- Sharp pain on the bottom heel or bottom mid-foot area
- Non-stop dull pain of the affected area after exercising or training
- Flaring pain after taking the first steps out of bed or when sitting for long periods
- Clear presence of a swollen heel
- Chronic pain from the same area for several weeks or months
- Tight Achilles tendon
Read More: Top 3 Symptoms Of Plantar Fasciitis
How Is Plantar Fasciitis Diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will ask for your medical history, which is forwarded to your assigned doctor to be evaluated. A physical examination performed by a licensed doctor is needed to check for tenderness in your foot, the exact location of the pain, foot coordination, and muscle reflex. After the physical examination, the doctor will ask standard questions – “Does your job require you to stand or walk for long periods?”, “What time of the day does it hurt the most?”, “Do you have difficulty in raising your toes?” – to give the doctor an impression if it’s plantar fasciitis.
Many conditions are considered when you report foot pain – fracture, tendinitis, arthritis, nerve entrapment, or a cyst in the heel. To be sure about other potential foot problems, the doctor may order an X-ray or an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).
What To Expect
Plantar fasciitis isn’t acquired overnight, but it is possible to heal it faster than the time it took to acquire it. With the proper treatment, the pain from plantar fasciitis will decrease in volume within a few weeks. But for a person with plantar fasciitis to be pain-free, it might take a few more months to a year of treatment.
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