What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is pain on the bottom of your foot, around your heel and arch. The plantar fascia is a strong band of tissue that runs from your heel towards your toes. It supports the arch of your foot and acts as a shock absorber. Symptoms occur when the plantar fascia tissue cannot cope with the amount of load that is placed on it.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptom is pain felt under the foot. The pain is worse when you start walking, after sleeping or resting. It normally feels better during exercises but returns afterwards. For some this pain can last anywhere between 9-24 months, but for others the symptoms may start and resolve quite quickly.
What are the causes?
The exact cause is not always known. For some, their symptoms may have developed gradually over time for no obvious reason, but for others the symptoms can start quickly after a specific injury or activity. Below is a list of some of the risk factors that may contribute to the symptoms:
- Being overweight.
- Prolonged or sudden increase in time spent standing, walking or running.
- Poor fitting or unsupportive shoes.
- Sudden change to exercise habits. This could include starting a totally new style of exercise or suddenly increasing how much you have been doing or the surface that you do it on.
- Having a tight Achilles tendon. This can restrict how much movement you have in the ankle.
What can I do to help myself?
- Stay positive, plantar fasciitis resolves for most people within 6 months.
- Try to reduce long periods of standing and walking where possible.
- Wear good shoes that support the inside arch of the foot and have cushioning under the heel, such as a pair of laced sports shoes.
- Try placing supportive insoles into existing shoes. They should give support to the inside arch and cushioning to the heel.
- Avoid walking barefoot.
- Use Pain killers. It is recommended to try regular paracetamol and Anti Inflammatory tablets, such as ibuprofen, in the first instance. If you are not sure if these are safe for you to use or they are not effective speak to your GP.
- Apply an icepack (covered with a towel) to the foot for 15–20 minutes for symptomatic relief.
- Lose weight.
- Self-refer to a see a physiotherapist or try the exercises suggested below.
- See a podiatrist.
What will physiotherapy do?
A physiotherapist with take a thorough history of your symptoms and will conduct a physical examination of the area to confirm the diagnosis.
Your physiotherapist will create an individual and progressive exercise programme to address your individual needs. Treatment will be based on active rehabilitation, focusing on strength and flexibility of the muscles surrounding the ankle and foot.
We have included some gentle exercises for you to start trying if you wish, please see below.
Acupuncture, electrotherapy and massage have not been shown to be helpful for plantar fasciitis and therefore not offered.
The use and risks and benefits of steroid injections can be discussed with your Physiotherapist or GP. Due to the coronavirus pandemic we will not be offering injections until further notice.
Symptoms to check
Click the plus sign to see a list of problems that could be a sign you may need to be checked urgently
Get advice from 111 now if:
- your foot is very painful and you cannot put any weight on it
- you have direct injury to the foot and it has become very swollen very quickly
- your foot is badly swollen or has changed shape
- you heard a snap, grinding or popping noise at the time of injury
- you have a very high temperature, feel hot and shivery, and have redness or heat around the foot – this can be a sign of infection
111 will tell you what to do. They can tell you the right place to get help if you need to see someone.