The plantar fascia ligament starts at the calcaneus bone at the back of your heel, stretching like a bowstring to the front of your foot and helping to maintain your foot arch.
When the fascia becomes inflamed, the condition is called plantar fasciitis, and it often comes with a characteristic pain in the heel.
At Chicagoland Foot and Ankle, our team of board-certified foot and ankle specialists takes plantar fasciitis pain very seriously, offering a range of treatments to help you get back on your feet as soon as possible.
Here’s what you need to know about the condition, as well as the risk factors for developing it.
The plantar fascia ligament
In addition to supporting your arch, the plantar fascia acts as a shock absorber when you walk, run, or jump. Too much pressure on the ligament, though, and/or pressure over a long period of time, creates small tears, leading to inflammation and pain in the heel.
The pain is usually worse in the morning, since the tissue tightens while you sleep. You have to stretch it when you get up to relax it enough so the pain abates. If the condition is severe, though, the ligament may resist stretching, and you have pain and tenderness all day.
Major risk factors for plantar fasciitis
Although putting too much strain on the fascia is definitely a cause of plantar fasciitis, other contributing factors may be trauma, poor foot alignment, and/or shoes that don’t fit well.
Certain people have an increased risk of developing plantar fasciitis. You’re at risk if you:
- Are a woman
- Are overweight, obese, or pregnant
- Are between ages 40 and 70
- Have flat feet or very high arches
- Have tight Achilles tendons
- Have an inward pronation (ankle turns inward as you walk)
- Take part in running, jumping, or dancing such as ballet
- Do anything with repetitive foot impact
- Have tight calf muscles
- Often wear high heels
- Spend a lot of time standing, especially on hard surfaces
- Wear shoes with thin soles or without arch support
If left untreated, complications include not only pain in your heel and the sole of your foot, but also knee, foot, hip, and/or back problems.
Treating plantar fasciitis
At Chicagoland Foot and Ankle, we usually start with conservative methods of treatment for plantar fasciitis. That includes lifestyle changes and targeted pain relief solutions.
We may prescribe ice packs, oral anti-inflammatory medications, or steroid injections if the pain is severe. Custom orthotics, night splints, and physical therapy are all good options to help with pain while encouraging healing.
Plantar fasciitis surgery is a rarity, but if conservative care doesn’t provide the necessary relief, we may recommend a procedure called plantar fascia release.
Are you struggling with heel pain and looking for relief? We can help. Schedule a consultation today. We have offices in the Beverly/Mt. Greenwood and Portage Park areas of Chicago, in Orland Park, and in New Lenox, Illinois.