The cause of plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of a thick band of gristle called the plantar fascia. This commonly occurs at the point of attachment to the calcaneus / heel bone. At this point, the tissue splits up into 10,000 fibres, each of which punctures the bone to hang on. This anchor point is called an aponeurosis. This zone has very, very poor blood flow. If you were to cut the area surgically, you would squeeze out a couple of drops of blood but nothing like what would flow by cutting skin, bone or muscle. Plantar fasciitis is an episodal condition which means that, if you are prone to it, you will suffer episodes or ‘attacks’ on and off through your life. An episode might last a month or it could well last five years.
For this reason, doctors will often say “Don’t worry, it will go away by itself” which is probably true – but five years is a long time to put your life on hold waiting for it to clear up naturally. Added to this, the older you become, the less ‘bounce’ the collagen in your connective tissues becomes. This is the reason you get wrinkles as you age and is also the reason why attacks of plantar fasciitis get more severe and more frequent as you age. For this reason, you will see that your life will get better and stay better if plantar fasciitis is treated early and effectively. This is achieved by use of a shoe insert and it is best to continue using the support for the long term to avoid further episodes. The inserts are discussed in these questions but are much more user friendly now than they have been in the past. For more information, please browse to our Plantar Fasciitis Info Sheet. Alternatively, click the following link to return to the Podiatry FAQs Blog.