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What causes heel pain when running?

Common Cause of Heel Pain – Plantar Fasciitis

What is plantar fasciosis?

Plantar fasciosis, or commonly known as plantar fasciitis, is pain at the attachment site of plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a thick connective tissue stretching from the bottom of the heel along the sole of the foot to the toes. It is important for shock absorption and arch support of the foot. Plantar fasciitis is more correctly termed as “plantar fasciosis” as the underlying cause is more related to overuse and degeneration rather than inflammatory changes.

What causes plantar fasciosis?

Activities that involve repetitive movements of the ankle can cause microtears in the fascia leading to cellular changes. Sudden increase in load such as running or unsupportive footwear can contribute to development of plantar fasciitis. Obesity, low or high arch of the foot, decreased ankle range-of-motion or muscle tightness are other risk factors that can cause plantar fasciosis. 

What are the symptoms?

Typically, someone with plantar fasciitis usually presents with gradual onset of sharp or throbbing pain over the inside of the heel. The heel pain is usually aggravated by weight-bearing activities such as running, prolonged walking or climbing stairs. Symptoms usually worsen during the push-off part of walking. The pain may also be worse after a period of inactivity such as prolonged sitting, standing or first thing in the morning. 

How can physiotherapy help?

An experienced physiotherapist will conduct a series of examinations to correctly diagnose your heel pain. An initial 6-week conservative treatment is recommended to treat plantar fasciosis. Treatments can involve ice, rest, activity modifications, massage, taping, stretching and specific exercises to gradually reduce the symptoms. An ultrasound scan is usually not required but may be useful to investigate the degree of swelling and thickness of the fascia. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may also assist in reducing pain. Speak to one of our experienced physiotherapists today for pain relief and gradual return to previous level of exercise. 

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