Overview
Plantar fasciitis can be a real pain in the foot. Plantar fasciitis is the medical term for inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is the connective tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot. If you?ve ever had pain in the bottom of your foot with the first few steps out of bed in the morning, you?ve probably had some experience with this painful condition. In active populations, plantar fasciitis is often associated with overuse or a sudden change in activity, and temporarily easing off of activity can be part of the solution. In more sedentary populations, weight gain is usually a major contributor to plantar fasciitis and a weight-loss plan could be of benefit. Whether you?re active or sedentary, however, previous foot injuries, poor arch support, or tight muscles around the foot can all predispose you to plantar fasciitis.
Foot Arch Pain

Causes
Recent research has found a link with changes to the tendon in the foot and an increase in a type of protein called proteolytic enzyme. These enzymes can break down some areas of the tendon, weakening it and causing the foot arch to fall. Similar changes are also seen in other conditions, such as Achilles tendonitis. This could have important implications for treating flat feet because medication that specifically targets these enzymes could provide an alternative to surgery. However, further research is needed and this type of treatment is thought to be about 10 to 15 years away.

Symptoms
The foot of a newborn with congenital vertical talus typically has a convex rocker-bottom shape. This is sometimes combined with an actual fold in the middle of the foot. The rare person who is diagnosed at an older age often has a "peg-leg" gait, poor balance and heavy calluses on the soles where the arch would normally be. If a child with congenital vertical talus has a genetic disorder, additional symptoms often are seen in other parts of the body.

Diagnosis
Diagnosis of a plantar plate tear can often be challenging due to the complex nature of the anatomy of the foot. Careful history taking and an examination of the area of pain is required to determine the extent and cause of the tear. If necessary, further investigations such as x-rays or diagnostic ultrasound may be ordered by your podiatrist to help evaluate the severity of the problem.

Non Surgical Treatment
Treatment isn't usually needed for flat feet because the condition doesn't usually cause any significant problems. Aching feet can often be relieved by wearing supportive shoes that fit properly. You may need to wear shoes that are wider than normal. If your feet overpronate, you may need to wear a special insole (an orthotic) inside your shoes to stop your feet rolling inwards when you walk or run. These will usually need to be made and fitted by a podiatrist.
Foot Arch Pain

Surgical Treatment
If pain or foot damage is severe, your doctor may recommend surgery. Procedures may include the following. Fusing foot or ankle bones together (arthrodesis). Removing bones or bony growths also called spurs (excision). Cutting or changing the shape of the bone (osteotomy). Cleaning the tendons' protective coverings (synovectomy). Adding tendon from other parts of your body to tendons in your foot to help balance the "pull" of the tendons and form an arch (tendon transfer). Grafting bone to your foot to make the arch rise more naturally (lateral column lengthening).


Prevention
There are several things you can do to prevent pain on the bottom of the foot. Here are some tips to help you avoid this condition. Do simple stretches each day (See Plantar Fasciitis Exercises for a list of all exercises). Wear good shoes that fit properly and are appropriate for the activity you are participating in. Lose excess weight if possible. Build your stamina slowly, especially with new exercises. Rest and elevate your feet, whenever possible, keeping them at least twelve inches above your heart. Always follow your doctor?s instructions for treatment. Each day do a different activity. For example: one day ride your bike, and swim the next day.

Stretching Exercises
Start in an L-Sit position. (If you?re hips and hamstrings are tight sit up on a box or phone book to be able to achieve a tall back position. You can even sit on a box with your back supported against a wall!) Keeping the legs straight, but not locked, reach both heels out away from your body to ?Flex? the ankles. Try to avoid pulling back with the toes to flex. Keep the toes relaxed and lead from the heel to hinge the foot into the flexed position. Hold the flexed foot and breathe. Take 3-5 breaths and see if you can reach farther through the heel to deepen the flex on each exhale. To transition to the pointed position, begin by pointing the foot to move the ankles as far as possible in the other direction. Once the ankles have reached their endpoint, use the muscles along the sole of the foot to point the toes. Inhale to continue lengthening out through the top of the foot, exhale to deepen the contraction under the sole of the foot to point the toes. Take 3-5 breaths. Then release the toes, and begin reaching out through the heel to hinge the ankle into the flexed position to repeat the exercise. Continue to flex and the point for 5-10 repetitions.

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Noelia Drumwright

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