Pain under the foot is often called plantar fasciitis. This is often misdiagnosed, especially by overworked general practitioners. An accurate diagnosis is required to be certain.
“True” plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of a thick band of tissue at the bottom of the foot. The tissue is called the plantar fascia. The inflammation is often (but not necessarily) close to the heel bone, causing the classic symptoms of pain at the bottom or inside of the heel.
The plantar fascia is a very important structure which gives stability and strength to the foot when under pressure. The stresses on a foot can be quite considerable, and may result in damage to the plantar fascia.
There are many possible causes. Risk factors include weight gain, feet which are too “flat”. Feet where the arch is too high, sudden and unusually high levels of activity, inappropriate footwear, poorly supported feet, trauma, tight muscles, and the list goes on. Plantar fasciitis can be a culmination of several risk factors. It is important to diagnose and treat the correct factors to remove the pain for good.
The most common symptoms are pain in the morning on first putting the foot on the floor. Another common symptom is pain on rising from a chair.
The pain can be quite intense, but usually subsides after a few steps. However, the pain returns after resting.
Sometimes it is associated with a “heel spur”. This is a small “spike” of bone at the front of the heel. This will have been drawn out of the heel bone by the pulling action of the plantar fascia. If the pain is caused by the spur, then the pain is unlikely to subside after a few steps, and will become worse as the sufferer continues walking.
The Podiatrist will help you to reduce the painful inflammation, and protect the site from further injury. He may prescribe support for the foot to help it to heal. This can include supportive taping and special insoles. Special hands-on therapies or acupuncture can be used to reduce pain. You may be asked to undertake some exercises.
This sort of conservative care is almost always successful.
The treatment must always be tailored to the unique characteristics of each patient, and the Podiatrist will work to reduce the chances of a return of the problem.