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Heel pain (plantar fasciitis)

What is it?

What causes it?

Heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis is a weakening of the plantar fascia, which is the flat band of tissue that connects your heel to your toes [1].

Red areas on the pictures indicating where plantar fasciitis can be affected, mostly in the heel region

Repeated small tears in the plantar fascia cause heel pain [1]. These tears are more likely to occur if you are overweight, over 50, or if you do repetitive activities (like sports or standing for a long time on hard surfaces) [1]. The problem can also be caused by unsupportive footwear, or by biomechanical abnormalities leading to flat feet [2]. Taking up a new form of exercise, or suddenly increasing the intensity of exercise can also cause heel pain [1].

What are the symptoms?

Pain and tenderness under the heel. This can be a sharp stabbing or deep ache. It is usually worse when you first get up in the morning, and after being on your feet all day [1]. Pain can also extend into your knee, legs and back due to compensation.

What podiatry treatments are available?

  • Biomechanical assessment and management – a special biomechanics assessment at Open Podiatry can help to determine the cause of your heel pain. Our podiatrist will watch you walk and will assess how much motion you have in the joints of your foot and ankle. If appropriate, you will be prescribed custom insoles to prevent heel pain and footwear advice will be given [2]. Using latest technology we use PODOSmart to conduct a 3D gait analysis. Our custom insoles follow the latest trends in design manufacturing, we utilise both 3D scanning for the most optimum fit and 3D printing to construct a long-lasting device able to control your feet. Visit our Orthotics page to learn more.

  • Taping – our podiatrist may use supportive tape to reduce foot strain [3].

  • Ultrasound – this sends sound waves to the painful area of your foot, helping it to heal [1]. This is usually carried out 1-3 times a week over a period of 6 weeks and is coming soon to our clinic here in Bradford.

References

1.     Landorf, K.B., and Menz, H.B. (2008). Plantar heel pain and fasciitis. Clinical Evidence. BMJ Clinical Evidence, pii:1111.

2.     Roos, E., Engström, M., and Söderberg, B. (2006). Foot orthoses for the treatment of plantar fasciitis. Foot and Ankle International. 27(8):606-11.

3.     . Radford, J, A., Landorf, K. B., Buchbinder, R., and Cook, C. (2006). Effectiveness of low-dye taping for the short-term treatment of plantar heel pain: a randomised trial. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 7 (64).

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