Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the connective tissue (called the plantar fascia) located at the dorsal aspect (sole) of the foot. Plantar fasciitis symptoms are usually felt due to the inflammation of the connective tissue. The plantar fascia is a fibrous connective tissue that extends from the heel (calcaneus bone) to the toes. It is associated with weight bearing activities for prolonged periods, and is a condition frequently suffered by the clinically obese. The plantar fascia struggles to cope with the excess weight needed to be carried.

The pain from plantar fasciitis is usually present on the side and base of the heel and may extend up to the toes which make it difficult for dorsiflexion (flexion of the foot with the toes towards the shin.) There may also be lower leg pain accompanying the condition; due to changes made to the posture due to the pain in the heel.

Plantar fasciitis symptoms are checked through clinical examinations of the patient’s past health history, pain characteristics and physical activity level. Also the timing of the pain is a good indicator of this condition. Morning foot pain is very common. Imaging will be done by the use of X-rays, MRI or ultrasound to arrive with a definite diagnosis. Correct diagnosis leads to correct treatment since a lot of foot problems have the same symptoms such as foot or heel pain. An x-ray will not show plantar fasciitis, but may show heel spurs – a condition often accompanying the problem.

Heel spurs occur with plantar fasciitis especially when it has been allowed to progress untreated for a long period. Heel spurs are the calcification of the heel bone caused by plantar fasciitis, where spurs of bone form. However, these are not necessarily painful – a common misconception. Plantar fasciitis is what causes the pain. Heel spurs may cause plantar fasciitis or be caused by plantar fasciitis. This is not particularly well understood.

Plantar Fasciitis Treatment

Management for plantar fasciitis symptoms includes both medical and the surgical approach. Treatment should be started immediately as soon as plantar fasciitis symptoms appear. Non invasive medical treatments include rest, since the root cause of plantar fasciitis is often overuse.

Another is massage and stretching of the calf muscles to improve flexibility and relax the foot. Since the foot carries our weight, weight loss is also significant in reducing the stress and strain on the foot. Supportive shoes and splinting at night may help in immobilizing the affected area and can avoid to avoid improper foot alignment. That can aggravate the condition.

Physical therapy is done for rehabilitation and allows for the maximum movement of the lower extremities. An alternate heat and cold therapy has been demonstrated to provide pain relief by relaxing the muscles around the foot. Meanwhile, anti-inflammatory drugs provide a faster and effective relief of plantar fasciitis symptoms.

More aggressive management includes the use of orthotics like foot supports to increase foot functionality and slightly reduce pain. Corticosteroids may also be used as an anti-inflammatory agent for refractory cases not responding to milder anti-inflammatory drugs. Surgery becomes a last resort for intractable plantar fasciitis. Plantar fascia release is one of the conventional procedures that can potentially lead to falling of arch, nerve injury, rupture of the fascia and nerve injury.

Another surgical procedure is fasciotomy which is a less invasive surgery that creates a hole through the plantar fascia to release tension. Lastly, coblation or Topaz surgery uses radiofrequency for ablation to relieve plantar fasciitis symptoms.

Author's Bio: 

Steve Roberts writes on health and fitness. Having suffered from painful plantar fasciitis symptoms, he cannot recommend strongly enough taking steps to avoid the condition. Take care of the feet and avoid plantar fasciitis, as curing it can be a long winded process.