The connective tissue that allows the arch of the bottom of the foot to be protected is called the plantar fascia. Plantar fascia extends from the heel bone to the bones on each toe and mid-foot. The basic functions of the plantar fascia are to support the arch of the foot, absorb weightbearing on the foot and absorb shock. When there is a tear in the plantar fascia, it can be painful and traumatic. A torn plantar fascia can either be a complete or a partial tear. Injuries of the plantar fascial are more likely to be a complete tear rather than the less common partial.
Causes of a Torn Plantar Fascia
The constant overuse of running may cause a partial tear. The more common tear in the plantar fascial is a complete tear. Some of the causes for a torn plantar fascial include:
- Heavy weight gained during late pregnancy
- Overweight or Obesity
- Sports injuries
- Improper footwear
- Motor-Vehicle accidents
- Flat feet or High arched feet
- Extensive weight training and lifting
Symptoms of a Torn Plantar Fascia
There is no walk in the park if you are suffering from a torn plantar fascia. Some of the symptoms that accompany this kind of tear include:
- Swelling or Inflammation
- Heel pain
- Difficulty walking or running
- Inability to put on shoes
- Pain in both feet
- Burning sensation
- Numbness and tingling
- Even if the pain subsides or diminishes when sitting or lying down, it does not mean that your symptoms should be ignored. Symptoms such as the ones listed above can escalate into bigger problems if medical help is not sought out.
Doctors will usually start with a physical examination to check the reaction of the foot or feet. Physical examination can detect the location of the pain, numbness, tenderness and swelling. During the exam, doctors will check reflexes, balance, coordination, touch and muscle tone. If there is any suspicion that you have a torn plantar fascia then the following tests will be performed:
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Computerize tomography (CT or CAT scan)
Depending on the extent of the torn plantar fascia, doctors will recommend different treatment plans. If the tear is partial or non-extensive then the recommendation is R.I.C.E. and NSAIDS. These abbreviations stand for rest, ice, compression, elevation, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen. Staying off your feet for at least two weeks is the perfect way to decrease further damage to the tear.
If the pain continues after the above treatment has been completed, then doctors will suggest physical therapy. The stretching of the plantar fascia along with the Achilles tendon can help heal the tear quickly. Continuing physical therapy at home can also help increase your chance of healing the problem. A night splint or brace can also help with reducing movement of the foot and prevent pain.
Unfortunately, there are times when both above treatments do not work, and surgery is required. Surgery is performed when you have lost or are at risk of losing function of your foot or feet. However, injections of cortisone and platelet-rich plasma can be given prior to surgery to decrease the chance of more damage.
Tips and Prevention
It is not easy to suffer from a torn plantar fascia, but it is even worse to ignore the signs and symptoms. Bigger problems can follow a torn plantar fascia if left untreated. The development of leg pain, knee injury, hip problems and back pain can occur if a torn plantar fascia is not treated properly. Stretching the muscles and body before working out is a great way to prevent this type of tear. Wearing the right (comfortable) shoes can also help prevent a torn plantar fascia, especially for those with flat feet or high arches.