Heel pain is one of the most common types of pain leading to treatment by a podiatrist. Plantar Fasciopathy (also known as plantar fasciitis, runner’s heel, painful heel syndrome) is the most common form of heel pain and contributes to around 11-15% of all foot complaints. The condition can be seen in both athletes and inactive individuals, commonly affecting middle-aged people rather than the younger generation.
The Plantar Fascia is a band of connective tissue that originates at the medial heel and spans the entirety of the foot it is primarily made up of collagen fibres. The Plantar Fascia is an important structure and plays a crucial role within our bodies biomechanical function, it also aids in shock absorption and helps support the foot’s arch.
Commonly, sufferers of Plantar Fasciopathy will complain of pain during their first steps in the morning, or after periods of rest. This sensation tends to ease after walking short distances, but can increase on longer journeys or upon exercise. The pain is most typically located to the medial heel and is usually described as a sharp pain or a burning ache. Many conditions can cause similar symptoms, it is important for your Podiatrist to differentiate between comparable disorders. Diagnosis is usually made via clinical testing, however, ultrasound imaging or an MRI maybe requested to confirm the diagnosis in more complicated cases.
Following may help manage the symptons:
- Rest your heel by avoiding long distance walking or too much standing up.
- Regular stretching – calf muscle stretches (wall press and step raise) or rolling the foot over rolling pin styled object;
- Pain relief – icepack on the affected heel or painkillers.
Risk Factors for Plantar Fasciopathy:
- Biomechanical abnormalities
- Extreme arch profiles (either high or low)
- Joint disorders such as arthritis
- Being overweight (BMI >25)
- Work or lifestyle choice that lead to being on your feet for over 8 hours daily
- Recent increases in exercise, common amongst runners.
- Muscle tightness
Our Podiatrist will undertake a biomechanical assessment of you; this will consist of the clinician analysing the motion range and quality of key joints within your body. Findings from this assessment will help determine whether there are any limitations or abnormalities present.
Frequently prescribed treatments for Plantar Fasciopathy include:
- Stretching/strengthening programs
- Footwear advice
- Anti-inflammatory medication (in the earlier stages)
- Weight-loss recommendations
- Orthotic devices
- Adjusted exercise patterns and/or rest
- Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT)
- Injection therapies
- Surgery may be undertaken in extreme cases
If you are feeling symptoms of heel pain, please consult with one of our Podiatrists at Woodside clinic.