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When a person normally walks, the plantar fascia, which is a thick connective tissue, lengthens by stretching when the foot strikes the surface being walked on. The inflammation of this tissue is called plantar fasciitis. Although it is not known or understood what causes this to occur, physicians believe it develops due to the repetition of small tears to the tissue. Usually a person’s way of walking or routine stress causes the plantar fascia to become swollen, weak, and inflamed or irritated, therefore, causing pain upon standing or walking.  There are many different activities as well as conditions and factors that may cause this type of irritation, for example:
• Overall biomechanical factors such as pronation or the inward rolling or twisting inward of the feet, flat feet, tight calf muscles, high arches, or tendons that are tight in the back of the heel or Achilles tendons.
• Activities that are done repetitively such as running, standing, or walking on rough or hard surfaces will also contribute to this inflammation.
• Suffering with obesity or simply being overweight puts added stress on the entire body especially the feet.
• The wearing of shoes that improperly fit the feet or that are not cushioned adequately as well continuing to wear shoes that are worn out should be avoided if at all possible.
• Plantar fasciitis is most common in middle-aged adults therefore another factor is one’s age.
A Glance at Signs and Symptoms
As there are many causes for plantar faciitis, there are also a wide array of signs and symptoms associated with this disorder. The most common complaint is the extreme pain in the heel especially the first steps one takes upon getting out of bed or upon rising from sitting for an extended amount of time. Most generally with this pain there will be stiffness and as it may have eased off some with rest, it usually gets progressively worse during the course of the day. Individuals may also suffer pain when standing is necessary for lengthy amounts of time. With any of these signs and symptoms present, individuals need to seek the advice of their physician to ensure proper treatment.
Treatment Goals
Basically, the goals for plantar fasciitis treatment are to first and foremost relieve the inflammation and to alleviate the pain in the heel. Other goals are to improve the flexibility and strength of the feet and correct pronation in order to prevent stressing the plantar fascia ligament. Another of the most important goals is the return the individual to their normal daily activities.
Home Therapy
Numerous people try to treat this and other ailments at home first before seeking medical attention. They generally start by attempting to rest and avoid daily activities, such as walking and running on hard surfaces that may be aggravating the pain and discomfort. Most utilize over-the-counter medications in an attempt to relieve pain and inflammation and may also place shoe inserts or heel cups to alleviate the pressure on their feet. Some have found that as soon as they get out of bed that if they put their shoes on this helps with the pain and that try to wear house slippers or go barefoot only worsens the pain. Although many of these remedies may work, one should still seek the advice of their physician or that of a specialist.
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