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What is Plantar Fasciitis

what is plantar fasciitis

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain in both runners and non-runners, with approximately 10 per cent of people suffering from plantar fasciitis at least once in their life.

The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band of connective tissues starting from the bottom of your heel bone, extending along the sole of the foot towards the toes. It is a condition affecting the ligaments in the sole of the feet that causes pain in the heel and arch. When your plantar fascia develops a tear and becomes inflamed or painful, this is known as plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis is a common type of heel pain experienced by athletes and non-athletes. This article will go into what it is, how it’s caused and how to treat it. For more information, contact the Northern Districts Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic today.

The Three Sub-Types of Plantar Fasciitis

There are three main sub-types of this heel pain, characterised by the impact on daily activity, length of time impacted and treatment options.

Acute Plantar Fasciitis

This type is when pain is just noticed when a dull ache is detected in the heel. Typically after a long day, it can be hard to put pressure on the affected area, and it may feel tight and achy. At this stage, early treatment is an option to prevent further development of the heel damage. If recognised, it is important not to ignore heel pain as it can help you prevent chronic pain down the track. It is common to report feeling as if you have stepped on a stone and your heel has bruised as a result, even though there is no bruise.

Severe Plantar Fasciitis

This next type is more complicated. If pain is not targeted in the acute stage, your pain will progress into severe plantar fasciitis. This pain can develop quickly, with discomfort being present constantly, not just at random points during the day. Throbbing while sitting is extremely common and can lead patients to stop exercising and walking as the pain is too extreme. This can be caused by deep tears in the fascia, only detectable via ultrasound scans.

Chronic Plantar Fasciitis

Chronic pain is what happens when this condition fully develops. When the pain in your heel goes untreated for a long time, it develops into a chronic type of pain that will fluctuate throughout the day. Patients with chronic plantar fasciitis report pain and stiffness every morning, making it difficult to get out of bed normally. A heat compression or hot shower can help relieve this pain if applied during the peak of the pain. Chronic pain isn’t a consistent pain, making it unpredictable for the patient. Limping and hobbling as they first stand up is a common side effect. An ultrasound will show a thickening of the plantar fascia due to the inflammation.

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis and Who Does it Affect?

Plantar fasciitis is a condition or injury that can often occur without apparent reason or cause. However, some of the most common causes are impact and running sports or long periods of weight-bearing on your feet. Another common cause of plantar fasciitis is individuals with poor foot biomechanics that can stress out the plantar fascia tissue. Flat feet or weaker arch control can also be a common cause of plantar fasciitis.

The strain injury to the plantar fascia can be from excessive running or walking or landing incorrectly on the foot’s heel. Active men and women between the ages of 40 and 70 are at the highest risk for developing plantar fasciitis.

Those below 30 are less likely to develop this type of heel pain than those aged 60 and above. If someone who is usually sedentary suddenly changes to a highly active lifestyle, this shock to the heal can start to cause a tear in their heel tendons.

Our team of podiatrists have extensive experience in these conditions and can help you determine whether or not you are suffering from plantar fasciitis. Ultrasounds are the primary tool we use to find tears in tendons and decide which type of heal pain you may have.

Plantar Fasciitis West Ryde

Risk Factors

A range of risk factors can lead to plantar fasciitis if not corrected or managed correctly. These can include:

  • Sudden weight gain – can shock the plantar fascia ligaments with increased pressure. Similarly, those who struggle with being overweight or are classified as obese are at a higher risk as well.
  • Regularly run long distances.
  • Suffer from structural foot problems such as flat feet or high arches.
  • Notice tight Achilles tendons.
  • Work in a movement-based industry, such as a server or factory packer.
  • Regularly wear shoes with poor support or soft soles.

Diagnostic Process

In order to diagnose plantar fasciitis, there is a physical exam required to check tenderness and find the location of the pain. During this evaluation, your reflexes, muscle tone, coordination and balance will be tested to provide a baseline for functionality.

Redness, swelling, tenderness and stiffness will be assessed around your foot to determine if it is plantar fasciitis or another foot problem. X-rays or ultrasounds can also provide your physician with information about bone fractures or tears.

Treatment For Plantar Fasciitis: What Are Your Options?

There are a few options for treatments depending on your lifestyle and the type of pain you are experiencing. Non-surgical and surgical options are available as a treatment process to help you manage pain daily.

Poor foot biomechanics is often the primary cause of plantar fasciitis. It is important that a physiotherapist thoroughly assess and address your foot and lower limb biomechanics to prevent plantar fasciitis from developing again. Our team at NDPE are highly experienced in biomechanic foot assessments, treating a range of sporting injuries by using our Gait Analysis and Correction methods.

During your initial assessment, we will use physical treatment to restore normal motion of the joints and loosen the plantar fascia to release tension. Furthermore, our experienced physiotherapists at NDPE will teach you rehabilitation exercises to build strength and quicken your recovery.

We also have a new state of the art treatment called “Game Ready”, which is being used worldwide by leading Orthopaedic Surgeons, Sports Physicians and, of course, Physiotherapists to aid in the recovery of common sporting injuries.

Game ready will give you the best, most advanced, most effective therapeutic options for healing and recovering faster. This type of treatment has been clinically proven to provide the best results possible, using cold compression to accelerate the body’s natural repair mechanisms.


Surgery isn’t for everyone, and usually, non-surgical treatments are your first line of defence. Physical therapy stretches your tendons and strengthens your lower leg muscles to provide stability when walking. Shock wave therapy uses waves to stimulate your ligament to promote healing. Regularly stretching your muscles can relieve heel pain by loosening and decompressing the affected area. These are commonly used to promote natural healing and alignment of your ligaments to alleviate pain and prevent further muscle damage. To reduce strain, activities that aggravate the condition will need to be limited or avoided for a period of time. Orthotics Eastwood may also assist in reducing pressure on the heel and plantar fascia.


Only severe and long-lasting pain will be considered for surgery. The two main types of surgical treatment options for plantar fasciitis are gastrocnemius recession, where your calf muscles are lengthened to provide more mobility, and plant fascia release, where a surgeon will cut part of your ligament to release tension.


How to Take Your Next Steps With NDPE

If you are suffering from plantar fasciitis pain, you can trust one of our experienced physiotherapists at NDPE. Whether you are dealing with a severe injury, high-level rehabilitation following a severe injury or post-surgery, our team will devise a specific treatment plan tailored to your exact needs.  Call NDPE on 02 9874 8410.




Are you suffering from heel pain?

Heel pain can drastically reduce a person’s mobility, and this is especially the case with plantar fasciitis. Being common in the 40+ age group, it’s essential to contact a physiotherapist when you notice a dull ache or pain in your heel.

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Northern Districts Physiotherapy

Northern Districts Physiotherapy & Sports Clinic was established in 1995 and consists of an energetic team of highly qualified and experienced professionals who take the time to understand ...


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