The ball of the foot and heel are connected by a length of tissue known as plantar fascia. When the fascia in the foot becomes inflamed, it can be extremely painful. This is known as plantar fasciitis. Fascia is a fibrous, connective tissue that can be found throughout the body. The plantar fascia travels along the arch of the foot. The more a person walks, runs, stands, or pivots on their feet, the more irritated the fascia will become. Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis are two different conditions, but still closely related due to the fact that increased pressure on the fascia can aggravate heel and bone spurs.
Plantar fascia is treated in much the same way as other disorders of the foot. Anti-inflammatory medications can relieve the swelling and discomfort associated with the condition. Massage therapy, stretching, and exercising the foot and ankle joints will improve range of motion and flexibility. Exercise will also stimulate blood flow to the area which will bring much needed oxygen and nutrients that will be needed during the healing process. Keeping the foot elevated, applying ice packs and resting will also help a great deal. Using orthotics during the day and splinting the foot at night will provide much needed support that can take the pressure off of the arch of the foot.
Plantar fasciitis may be able to be prevented if a person takes exceptionally good care of their feet, makes sure to always wear shoes that fit properly, and perform exercises that stretch and strengthen feet and ankles. Because of the high demands placed on the feet, proper care is vitally important. Plantar fasciitis is often caused by the massive amounts of pressure and stress placed on the arch and other structures of the foot. If the condition does present itself, using orthotics and splints to support the arch may help to prevent the condition from worsening. Doctors may recommend wearing orthotics on a regular basis if the condition has progressed to the point where it is affecting quality of life.