Plantar Fasciitis: A Modern Achilles’ Heel
If Achilles were alive today, he might have complained of this condition. Though not exactly an ailment of the heel, it occurs in a relatively very close area, the plantar fascia (this is the broad connective tissue originating from the heel bone and extending to the metatarsals and the phalanges – the five toes). Findings point out that this is a case of tissue degeneration rather than inflammation, with causes pointing an overuse of said area. And although most diagnosed in hardy athletes, this ailment actually occurs in more or less two million Americans a year, and approximately 10% of the total global population over their lifetime.
With age, a person’s plantar fascia tend to lose its former tone and elasticity: hence, the fat pad cushioning the area cannot absorb shock as much as it does anymore. Bruising or tearing then occurs in high-octane, or repetitive, high-impact activities such as dancing, jumping, and running. Even plain stretching can increase the probability of plantar fasciitis. The risk is much greater for runners who roll and flatten their feet excessively (overpronation, or faulty bio-mechanics), since it puts unnecessary stress and strain on the fascia. For some people, the cause can be as simple as wearing shoes that do not fit well, to the sudden lurch from a sedentary to highly kinetic activity. Other factors may also point to diabetes, not giving enough rest for the feet, being flat-footed, and obesity.
However, pain radiating from the heel area is not enough for an ailment to be considered as plantar fasciitis. Though certainty can be achievable only by clinical diagnosis, the following symptoms may more or less give the hint that it is more than just a sore heel. The pain is of the dull, throbbing kind, most felt during flexing of the foot. However, the pain becomes of the stabbing variety when the arch and the heel are deliberately pressed. The symptoms aggravate during the morning, as the fascia stiffens due to sleep and immobility at night.
Good news is that first aid for plantar fasciitis is convenient and very easy to accomplish, ranging from simple rest, properly-administered massage therapy, cold therapy, and night splints. Changes effected in lifestyle – like proper diet and weight loss, and acquisition of ergonomic and suitable-fit items such as motion-control running shoes, socks that act as foot-pads, and night splints could greatly aid in the alleviation of pain. Doctors have always advised ailing patients to rest until the foot throbs no more, and during evening to night, minimal walking will contribute to relief. Items such as orthontics (foot supports) are widely endorsed by experts to be the only non-surgical therapy which render significant results. Though there are debates on which is more beneficial between night splints and orthontics, interchanging usage of either items will still help alleviating, if not wholly curing the problematic area of pain. Finally, periodic intake of drugs like naproxen or ibuprofen can relieve the inflammation – though after one month, the medication has to be evaluated by the doctor or podiatrist.Plantar Fasciitis: A Modern Achilles' Heel,
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