Sue Ferguson
Chiropodist and Podiatrist in Tenterden, Kent
Chiropody and Podiatry Clinic
LOCATION: Home | Common Foot Problems | Plantar Fasciitis Registered with the Health and Care Professions Council
Registration No. CH16194
 

Plantar Fasciitis


What is Plantar Fasciitis?
[Commonly known as Policeman's Heel]
Heel Pain

Plantar fasciitis is a common foot condition which causes pain and inflammation under the heel. It is also known as policeman’s heel or policemans foot.

The plantar fascia is a strong thick band of fibrous tissue that attaches underneath the heel bone and spans out to the base of the toes. It helps supports the arch. If the plantar fascia is stretched too much or too often then inflammation and small tears in the fibres can occur especially where the fascia attaches to the heel bone. One third of sufferers have the problem in both feet.

Plantar Fascia
Plantar Fasciitis
Do you have plantar fasciitis? Do you have pain and tenderness when you stretch the plantar fascia and press on the inside of the heel?


Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis

Heel pain is the main symptom. Pain is normally felt underneath the foot where the plantar fascia attaches to the heel, however pain can occur anywhere along the plantar fascia.

The pain is often worse in the morning when getting out of bed or on standing up after sitting down during the day. The first few steps can be intensely painful. The sharp pain will gradually disappear after a few minutes of walking but can then increase throughout the day as activity increases. You may limp because of the pain.

Who can get Plantar Fasciitis?
  • People over 40 but not necessarily
  • Athletes, especially those that change their running schedule or technique
  • People who do lots of walking, running and standing when they are not used to it
  • People who wear non-supportive shoes
  • People who are overweight
  • People who overuse their feet
  • People with tight calf muscles
  • People who excessively pronate (internally rotate) their feet
  • People with flat feet
  • People who have jobs which involve a lot of standing on hard surfaces

Sometimes an x-ray will show a bone spur on the heel but this is rarely the cause of the pain.

Healing

The plantar fascia will heal very slowly but if the area is continually aggravated and damaged by standing and walking, fibres will continue to be torn.

Without treatment about 80% of plantar fasciitis will heal in approximately 18 months. The other 20% will be left with a chronic condition causing severe pain.

Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis

Combining several treatments can help speed up the repair process. It is unlikely that one treatment alone will allow the heel to recover properly.

Treatment
What you should do First

  Rest - rest the foot as much as possible, avoid exercise until the area feels better
  Avoid barefoot walking - do not walk barefoot especially on hard surfaces
  Orthotics - a functional orthotic (insole) worn inside your shoe can improve foot function and stop excessive pronation (where the foot rolls in too much). Along with calf stretching, orthotics are often the most effective treatment. Also see ready made Orthaheel orthotics and Superfeet insoles.
  Stretching - gradual gentle stretching to the calf muscles and the plantar fascia to reduce tightness, reduce stress on the heel and reduce pain when getting up from bed first thing in the morning. Consider purchasing a night splint to stretch the plantar fascia and the calf muscles at night.
  Footwear - old or broken down shoes do not give enough support to the foot. Choose shoes with a good arch support. A training or sports shoe is probably the best type of shoe.
  Acupuncture - can help reduce the pain
Treatment - Second Choice
  Taping - tape applied in strips underneath the foot will help support and rest the foot
  Ice - ice applied to the painful area for 10 minutes 3-4 times per day will reduce inflammation. Gel ice packs are the easiest way of applying ice.
  Plantar fasciitis night splint - worn overnight will help to gently stretch the calf muscles and plantar fascia. Use the soft Procare night splint, a more substantial splint such as the ProCare Night Splint, or a Strassburg Sock. Combine a night splint with a day plantar fasciitis splint such as the Aircast Plantar Fasciitis AirHeel which is lightweight and comfortable. More information on plantar fasciitis splints.
  Massage and mobilisation - will reduce the tension in the plantar fascia and help stretching of the tissue
  Painkillers - paracetamol will help ease the pain
Anti-inflammatory medication/NSAIDs - such as ibuprofen will reduce inflammation
Treatment - if all else fails 
  Injections - a steroid (cortisone) injection can help reduce inflammation in the heel. Sometimes local anaesthetic is also injected in at the same time. It should only be considered if the heel pain remains severe despite all other options because it can cause tissue rupture and atrophy
  Plaster Cast to the lower leg - can be applied in very severe cases to rest the foot
  Surgery - may be considered in extremely severe and difficult cases that will not respond to any other treatment. Surgery is not always successful and should always be considered the absolute last resort.
   
Contact Sue Ferguson
Podiatrist
Book an appointment now to help your foot pain
Tel: 01580 765546
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A60 Ankle Brace
Aircast A60 Ankle Brace
Aircast A60 Ankle Brace - in shoes
Aircast A60 Ankle Brace
Strassburg Sock
Strassburg Sock
Strassburg Sock
Aircast Airheel Brace
Plantar Fasciitis, Heel Pain and Policeman's Heel - Aircast Airheel Brace worn during the day
Aircast Airheel

This splint can be worn during the day to help relieve heel pain and plantar fasciitis. More information

ProCare Night Splint
Night splint for plantar fasciitis, heel pain and policeman's heel
ProCare Night Splint

This splint is worn at night to help stretch the plantar fascia and the calf muscle which can help relieve the pain caused by plantar fasciitis. More information

Crocs are useful for plantar fasciitis - more information here

 


Sue Ferguson, BSc (Hons), MChS
Chiropody and Podiatry Clinic
2 St Benets Court
Tenterden
Kent
TN30 6QS
United Kingdom
Email: mail@sueferguson.co.uk
Tel: 01580 765546
Fax: 01580 764214
 
 

© Created by Sue Ferguson
Enquiries to : mail@sueferguson.co.uk
Date last updated: 9 May, 2010