The Hidden Dangers of Plantar Fasciitis
Have you have been feeling heel pain for a while now and have been putting up with it. Well, a number of recent cases at Complete Podiatry have really highlighted the dangers of plantar fasciitis to us.
Plantar Faciitis is a condition where the long ligament under your foot that helps to support the arch is repeatedly over-stretched or compressed and becomes damaged.
Plantar fascia pain commonly occurs about the inside of the heel and is worst first thing in the morning, after rest and may get worse with activity.
How Can The Plantar Fascia Tear?
All the tissued in our bodies function in what we call a "Continuum of Health".
At one end of the continuum, we have a very healthy, strong structure while at the other end we have a torn, fractured or ruptured structure.
The plantar fascia is no exception to this.
The plantar fascia is subjected to damaging forced every time we move or are active.
If it will begin to develop small changes which make it weaker and less able to cope with these normal day-to-day forces.
If the plantar fascia is sore and damaged and is not managed properly, this can make it more susceptible to further damage and, in extreme situations, could lead to a compleat tear or rupture.
Am I At Risk Of A Plantar Fascia Tear
Based on the best available information and research, two main risk factors for a complete plantar fascia tear have been identified:
1. Steroid Injection for the Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis - The research has identified that there is a 50% chance of a plantar fascia rupture after an injection of a steroid into the plantar fascia. Ironically, this is a 'go-to' treatment option for many health professionals.
2. Painful Plantar Fasciitis - If you are suffering from painful plantar fasciitis and are still very active, this increases your risk of a tear of the plantar fascia.
Why Is A Plantar Fascia Tear Dangerous?
The plantar fascia is a vital structural component in the arch of your foot.
It has many roles in enabling you to walk, run and jump and without it, serious complications can occur.
If your plantar fascia ruptures it will:
- Cause the arch of your foot to flatten and change the positions of the bones
- Create a much more unstable foot when pushing off your foot with walking
- Cause increased stress in the calf muscles
- Increase the strain in the small foot muscles as they will need to work harder to stabilise the foot
- Increase tension forces in the ligaments about the foot joints
- Increase bone compression forces in the middle of your foot and encourage arthritis
- Cause bending of the long metatarsals in your forefoot
- Increase strain on your toes
- Increase stress and force under the ball pf your foot when walking
- Stop your foot from being able to store and release energy when walking and running
How Do I Know If I Have Torn My Plantar Fascia?
When the plantar fascia tears you'll definitely know SOMETHING has happened.
You will usually feel a sudden, intense pain in the heel or under the arch that really stops you from wanting to walk on your foot.
Most people describe the feeling as like someone has hit you really hard under the heel.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have Torn My Plantar Fascia?
There are 4 very simple things you can do if you think you have torn your plantar fascia:
- The first thing you should do rest which means you STOP the activity you are doing.
- Apply ICE to the area.
- Apply a COMPRESSION bandage to the foot and ankle and
- ELEVATE the foot to help with swelling
- The next thing you should do it contact your Podiatrist to arrange an ultrasound of the plantar fascia so we can asses the extent of the damage.
How Do You Treat a Torn Plantar Fascia?
Once we have assessed the amount of damage to the plantar fascia we will be able to develop a management plan for your most effective treatment.
Management of a torn plantar fascia can broadly be divided into two approaches; conservative and surgical.
Conservative Management of a Torn Plantar Fascia
Many plantar fascia ruptures will respond favourably to conservative care. The management plan we typically follow consists of...
- Immediate immobilisation of your foot with a removable walking boot.
- Management of pain with regular ice application and possibly anti-inflammatory medication
- Maintain range of motion with exercises performed in non-weight-bearing
- Encourage muscle strength in non-weight-bearing
- Gradual return to weight-bearing and activity
- Long term management of load in the plantar fascia
Surgical Management of a Torn Plantar Fascia
After immobilising your foot with a removable walking boot, we will liaise with your GP to arrange a referral to a foot and ankle specialist to see whether a surgical approach would be of benefit to you.
If you are worried that you have torn your plantar fascia contact one of our Podiatrists immediately for an assessment and expert diagnosis.
Contact us on 8330 0004 or send us a message on our website.
Yours in helping to build amazing lives from the feet up
Director of Complete Podiatry