First of all, let's break down the word -
- plantar means the bottom of the foot
- fascia is connective tissue
- itis is inflamation or swelling
The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band of connective tissue originating on the bottom surface at the calcaneous (heel bone) and extending along the sole of the foot towards the five toes. It forms the sole and the longitudinal arch of the foot. This tendonous and ligamentous connective tissue is thick and tough and thus it has very little blood supply.
Injury to the plantar fascia can occur anywhere in this tissue but overwhelmingly occurs near the heel and is usually the result of an accumulation over time of microscopic tears at the cellular level.
When it gets sore and irritated it is frequently diagnosed as plantar fasciitis.
Several members of our family suffer with this ailment which is a little baffling to me. A few years ago no one had heard of plantar fasciitis!
One son, Rusty, determined to take care of the problem using only natural means. His was really bad when he undertook to fix it.
He had a large (golf ball size)??? knot at the base of his heal and was in constant pain. He tried using arch supports - which are very important in preventing plantar fasciitis- but he was in so much pain that the arch supports only added to the pain at first.
With determination and help from his wife and her massaging hands, he has completely conquered this. I am so proud of him.
We will discuss his choice of plantar fasciitis treatment as we go.
Pain. The pain is generally felt on the underside of the heel causing pain in the heel of the foot. This often causes a person to experience more difficulty bending the foot when the toes are brought toward the shin (called dorsiflexion of the ankle).
A side effect can be sore knees and lower back due to the necessity of walking and moving differently. Because this ailment affects not just my family, but an estimated 2 million Americans each year and about 10% of the population over a life time, it has become a familiar condition to most people.
Some Causes. Those suffering from this problem experience pain in the described area generally (but not always) because of the following things:
Pain experienced by those with plantar fasciitis can happen in a number of ways:
1. In the morning when you take your first few steps.
This pain comes from the already damaged and weakened tissues which shorten up during the night while you are sleeping.
This happens because the toes generally point distally (down) when sleeping (partly because of the weight of the blankets) and any stretch which one obtained during the day is lost as the tissues shorten in that position. Thus, when you climb out of bed and step onto your foot, pain is experienced as the tissues are stretched and torn from the initial weight bearing.
2. After standing or sitting for extended periods of time.
When in these positions without motion, the already damaged tissues again get aggravated and even shortened losing any lengthening benefits that may have been gained by stretching. With sudden weight bearing movement, the damaged tissues are again aggravated.
3. When climbing stairs.
Repetative steps causing extra pull on the involved damaged tissues traumatize it even further.
4. After intense activity.
This damaged tissue gets over used and thus becomes more aggravated. (Running was the cause of my daughters plantar fasciatis.)
These causes of increased pain in the heel are aggravated even more in people who:
- have foot arch problems such as flat feet or excessively high arches
- obesity or sudden weight gains
- poor shoe support as in shoes with no arch supports or excessively worn shoes or flip flops
- calf muscle and/or Achilles tendon traumas
- over use of excessively tight tissues
- runners who run long distances or run on concrete and other hard surfaces
Change. Unless we change these circumstances, a plantar fasciitis treatment is generally not as effective as it would be when treating other areas of the body. It's kind of like trying to heal a sore on the arm that is picked at and reopened and re-aggravated every day.
Even if the treatment is done properly, healing cannot take place under those circumstances. That is why this problem can last for months and even years at times.
Even people who choose the steroid injection route find that it takes a very long time to heal because they never deal with healing the problem.
More. Continue on the our next page on plantar fasciitis treatment for all of the steps in the effective treatment Rusty used.
Return from Plantar Fasciitis to Namas Natural Remedies home page