Plantar Fascia Injuries
Experiencing pain along the arch of your foot or in your heel? You may be coping with an injury to the main ligament in your foot – the plantar fascia. This strong, elastic ligament spans the bottom of your foot from the heel bone to the ball. It’s designed to allow you to flex your feet and it supports the spring in your step as you walk. There are six common injuries this vital ligament can sustain. By reading the following, simple summaries, you’ll be able to ascertain if a plantar fascia injury may be the cause of your pain, and you’ll find helpful links for further reading, too.
Plantar Fascia Tears
When undue strain is placed on the plantar fascia ligament, the fabric of its stretchy tissue can become weakened and small tears can develop. The source of the strain could include weight gain, an anatomical problem that causes you to walk unevenly on your feet, wearing ill-fitting shoes, high-impact sports like running or the normal aging process which can decrease the elasticity of your ligaments. If small tears and inflammation are accompanied by heel pain, particularly morning heel pain, chances are good that you’ve developed a condition known as Plantar Fasciitis. Most cases of Plantar Fasciitis can be resolved through a combination of rest, icing, heel stretches and Fascia-Bar treatments. It is not safe to ignore injuries to the plantar fascia ligament because you are likely to develop further tears and greater information. This can lead to debility.
Plantar Fascia Ruptures
The onset of a rupture of the plantar fascia ligament is generally more dramatic than the gradual development of small tears. Athletes are especially prone to this injury and often report having heard a popping sound at the time of injury. If you jog, run, play basketball or participate in other high-impact exercise, a sudden, intensely painful onset of pain in the heel and arch of your foot may indicate a rupture. You should seek medical attention immediately. The healing process from this type of plantar fascia injury typically revolves around rest, the use of a walking boot and support with crutches. Future ruptures may be prevented through appropriate use of orthotic shoe inserts, such a Heel Seats or GEL Seats.
In the presence of Plantar Fasciitis, calcium deposits, called heel spurs, may form on the heel underneath the plantar fascia ligament. It’s believed that these bony growths may represent your body’s attempt to support the ligament that has become loose and injured. When heel spurs prod into the soft tissues cushioning your heel bone, it can be extremely painful. Treatment of heel spurs generally relies on treating the underlying cause, such as Plantar Fasciitis, with rest and daily wear of an orthotic shoe insert designed specifically for this condition.
Tripping, falling, a blow to the foot, stepping in a way that twists the foot or subjecting the foot to repeated strain can pull the many bones of the foot out of alignment. This, in turn, places undue strain on the plantar fascia ligament, which can then lead to conditions like Plantar Fasciitis. If you believe you may have sprained your foot, seek immediate medical attention. Your physician will examine your foot for sprains, breaks and other problems and will recommend appropriate treatment.
You can cause direct injury to the plantar fascia ligament by stepping on an uneven surface, a hard or sharp object. If you cut the sole of the foot open and are bleeding, seek immediate medical attention. You may also need medical assistance if you develop a significant bruise on the sole of the foot.
Why Plantar Fasciitis Is The Most Common Condition Associated With The Plantar Fascia Ligament
Imagine holding a 4″ length of elastic between your two hands. Now, imagine stretching the elastic back and forth and then bearing down on it with the weight of your whole body. Imagine doing this for years of your life. The role played by the plantar fascia ligament in flexion and support is an amazing one, and because our feet bear the brunt of so many of our daily activities, it’s easy to see how this ligament could become worn, strained or injured.
In addition to the tremendous amount of use the plantar fascia undergoes each day, many people have habits, hobbies, physical issues and occupations that put an even greater demand on this ligament. All of the following factors can contribute to the development of a plantar fascia ligament injury:
- Gaining weight
- Lack of rest
- Sports like jogging and basketball
- Wearing shoes that don’t fit right or don’t support the foot’s natural position
- Jobs that require heavy lifting or long periods of standing
- Diets that lack the vitamins and minerals necessary to supporting ligament health
- Anatomical problems in the feet that cause an irregular walking gait
Any of the above can put your plantar facia ligaments at risk for injury, and while most cases of Plantar Fasciitis can be resolved via non-invasive methods, no one wants to be sidelined with an injury. Your best insurance against sustaining an injury is to wear properly-fitting shoes, to balance exercise with rest, to maintain a healthy weight and to eat a vitamin and mineral-rich diet. If you’ve already developed a condition like Plantar Fasciitis, making lifestyle changes and supporting your plantar fascia ligament with specialized shoe inserts will be your best bet for healing and preventing future injury.