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Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fascia is a strong band of tissue that stretches along the underside of the foot, under the skin, from your heel to the middle of the foot.

This ligament normally acts as shock-absorber and supports the arch of your foot, but when it becomes overloaded or over-used, the plantar fascia can tear and start to degenerate. This results in pain in the heel, known as plantar fasciitis.

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is a very common condition, affecting around 10% of the UK population at some point in their lives. For most people, the pain is mild and improves with general measures such as resting, stretching and changing footwear. However, in about 20% of people who suffer from the condition, the heel pain can persist, meaning they need further treatment.

Seeking quick and effective treatment for plantar fasciitis is essential. Ignoring your symptoms may result in ongoing heel pain that will get in the way of your daily routine. Additionally, changing the way you walk in order to relieve your plantar fasciitis pain can also lead to foot, knee, hip or back complications.

Symptoms & Causes

In the early stages of plantar fasciitis, many people describe pain on the bottom of their heel like that of a bruise. Your pain will usually be worse after getting out of bed, although this can wear off after a few minutes. You may find that pain can also be triggered by standing or walking for long periods, or when you get up after sitting. In some cases, the pain may progress to become more severe and present all the time, even at rest.

Diagnosis & Treatments

Diagnosis can be made via symptoms and examining your foot, or sometimes tests (e.g. ultrasound or MRI scan) are needed. Treatment in the early stages tends to be “conservative” i.e. resting, exercises, changing footwear. But if this doesn’t work then further treatments, including radiotherapy, can be considered.

Radiotherapy

A very low dose of targeted X-rays can be used to treat plantar fasciitis. This has been shown to be effective at reducing pain in 80% of cases.