NCTV Episode 58

Continuing with the series of bitesize health tip videos which can be found here on my YouTube Channel, this episode, includes:-

  • Understanding the condition
  • Ten common causes
  • How to avoid it
  • How to treat it
  • The prognosis

Transcript

If you’d prefer to read the content within, rather than watch the video, then feel free to read the transcript, as follows:-

Hello and welcome to NCTV Episode 57 which is all about pain and inflammation on the under surface of the foot, known as plantar fasciitis.

It’s most often located close to the heel and is caused by damage to the strong band of tissue, called the plantar fascia, which runs from the heel, under the arch of the foot to the base of the toes.

The role of the plantar fascia it to support the arch, enabling the foot work properly by spreading your weight evenly, so that you can walk, run or stand without difficulty, making them effectively our shock absorbers.

However, plantar fasciitis makes that job particularly difficult as it can be an extremely painful condition. It’s most often worse just after you have been resting and you may find that the pain improves when your foot is active, for example during exercise, but returns soon after you stop.

The risk factors for developing it are if you happen to be between 40-60, do certain activities that put a lot of stress on the heel like long distance running, ballet dancing and aerobic dance, have flat feet or high arches, are obese or do certain occupations where you’re on your feet a lot and on hard surfaces such as factory work or teaching.

Ten common causes of plantar fasciitis. It may be from:-

  1. a sudden increase in the amount of activity you do
  2. being on your feet for too long
  3. exercising on hard surfaces
  4. overstretching the sole of your foot
  5. being overweight, as it increases the strain on your heels
  6. an injury or weakness in the ankle
  7. high or low arches
  8. ageing, as it is more common in people over 40
  9. shoes that do not cushion or support the soles of your feet
  10. tightness in the calf.

A few things to be aware of are that Plantar fasciitis can increase the risk of lumps of calcium collecting on the heel bone, called bone spurs and this can make your pain worse. Weakness in the plantar fascia can also put additional strain on your ankle, knee, hip & back, so try not to overcompensated when possible.

So onto the important bit, how you can treat it?

Fortunately there are some self-help treatments for plantar fasciitis in the form of R.I.C.E. being Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation, which should help it to heal.

  • Rest – by avoiding putting weight on your heel. Whilst resting, it’s still a good idea to gently move it from time to time to stop the area getting stiff.
  • Ice – put an ice pack or frozen vegetables, covered in a cloth or tea towel, for about 10 minutes every 2–3 hours.
  • Compression – wrap a bandage around the painful area. It should be tight enough to support it, but not so tight that it restricts the blood flow.
  • Elevate your foot to reduce the swelling.

When it’s painful, rolling your foot over something like a can of coke can for about 20 minutes should help.

To get yourself moving again, gently massaging and stretching your calf, ankle and foot when you’re resting can also help then in time it’s a good idea to work on strengthening the leg muscles too with certain exercises that the likes of an osteopath or physio can recommend.

You can reduce the pressure on the bottom of your foot by replacing any worn-out footwear and wearing wide-fitting, comfortable shoes with a supportive sole and cushioned insole. Specifically, ones that fasten with a lace or strap and have a heel that is slightly raised by about 2–3cm, such as a good sports shoe. Some people have also found taping and night-splints to be useful too.

Try to avoid walking on hard surfaces with bare feet, wearing tight pointy shoes, high-heels, backless slippers, flip-flops, or flat shoes.

If you’re unsure what’s best, you can ask your pharmacist about insoles, heel pads and other pain relief like Paracetamol and ibuprofen.

In terms of prognosis, bear in mind that plantar fasciitis can be a stubborn condition and it may take up to 18 months to fully recover from it. However, if you feel these self-management tips have not helped after two weeks, it could be best to seek advice from your doctor, an osteopath, physiotherapist or a podiatrist.

Over the long term try to follow a healthy diet. If you are overweight, research shows that reducing the strain on the plantar fascia by losing even a small amount of weight can improve your pain levels.

If problem persists after several months of conservative treatment, some other procedures that have been used to help the condition are steroid injections to reduce the pain, shock wave therapy and ultrasound to stimulate the healing process and in rare & extreme cases, surgery.

That’s today’s bitesize bit to help your health flourish and I’ll see you again next time. By for now!