What is the Plantar Fascia?

The Plantar Fascia is a thick fibrous band of connective tissue originating on the bottom surface of the calcaneus (heel bone) and extending along the sole of the foot towards the five toes. It's function is to support and stabilise the foot during loading and propulsion, therefore it does not have much elasticity.

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar Fasciitis occurs when the Plantar Fascia becomes inflamed and irritatated at its attachment at the base of the heel and sometimes it can have small tears.

In some cases heel spurs may be present, however these are not the cause of pain. Often a patient will present with x-rays from their GP showing a heel spur present on one foot and no heel spur present on the other. Yet after examination, the pain is being experienced on the foot with no heel spur. Therefore, the pain is related to the underlying soft tissue as opposed to a physical problem with the bone.

Patients with Plant Fasciitis will attend after having the condition from one month to up to two years without successful treatment. Pain is usually present with first steps in the morning and after long periods of walking and running. In some cases there may be night heel pain, difficulty sleeping and the occasional sensitivity to cold. Physical examination shows pain on direct palpation of the bottom of the heel and tenderness of the calf muscles. Patients will often show signs of compensatory pain further up or on the other side of the body as a result of walking differently to avoid pain.

What are the causes of Plantar Fasciitis?

There is no single cause of Plantar Fasciitis but rather a range of contributing factors which cause the condition. Often the main cause is exposing the foot to an increase in workload and activity. Other causes include muscle weakness and imbalance, tight calf muscles, structural malalignment, flat feet and poor foot function, an increase in body weight and poor footwear.