What is plantar fasciitis and how do you treat it?

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What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis, otherwise known as Policeman’s Heel, refers to the inflammation of the bottom of the foot that joins the heel bone to the toe. 1 in 10 people will suffer from the condition at some stage in their lifetime, making it one of the most common illnesses in the UK and in fact around the world.

The condition develops when the ligaments in this section of the foot become worn or damaged due to overuse or straining, and then start to thicken. As a result, a consistent burning sensation is often felt in the heel of the foot.

It’s much more common to develop plantar fasciitis between the ages of 40-60, but it’s just as likely to occur at any age if your feet have suffered a great deal of wear and tear.

What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?

  • Pain or sensitivity in the heel or arch
  • Discomfort when taking the first steps in the morning
  • Aching with prolonged standing
  • Pain when stretching the sole of the foot

What causes plantar fasciitis?

The NHS claims that is no evidence behind the cause of plantar fasciitis – however, there are risk factors that could trigger the symptoms. These include:

  • Being overweight
  • Poor foot posture
  • Being on your feet for long periods of time
  • Tight calves
  • Flat or high foot arches

How do you treat plantar fasciitis?

Luckily, plantar fasciitis usually resolves itself in just 12 months and managing the symptoms of the condition can be easily achieved. Here are just a few remedies you may like to try:

1. Pain relief

As with any other ache or pain, over-the-counter pain relief medication would be your first point of call to reduce pain quickly. Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen or anti-inflammatory gels would be recommended, but always make sure you discuss your options with your GP before taking any new medication.

2. Appropriate footwear

Shoes with correct arch support would be recommended for anyone suffering from plantar fasciitis. There are also plenty of plantar fasciitis insoles on the market that can be inserted into your shoes to provide extra cushioning to the arch of the foot. Many orthotic insoles can even be tailored to support your foot shape for extra comfort. Removable heel lifts can also take the pressure off the foot and speed up the healing process.

3. Gentle exercise

While you may be avoiding exercise altogether for the fear of making your symptoms worse, staying active could in fact aid your recovery. Research has shown that partaking in regular exercise such as swimming, takes the pressure off the foot and provides slight relief.

4. Use an ice pack

Ice is an easy way of reducing any inflammation, but never place ice directly on the skin, as there is a risk of frostbite causing damage to the delicate tissues. Instead, wrap a bag around a bag of crushed ice and place on the heel up to four times per day.

Don’t let the symptoms of plantar fasciitis affect your mobility and your quality of life. Try using these tips above to alleviate pain and discomfort so you can get back to the things you enjoy!

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