Plantar fascia is a thick, dense band of ligament tissue located at the bottom of the foot, and forms its longitudinal arch. It is made of strong fibers, like elastic and collagen. Remember an important point, that a plantar fascia tear is different from plantar fasciitis. In the former, the ligament is completely ruptured, whereas in the latter, only minor tears develop in the ligament tissue.
Basically, the plantar fascia get torn when it is subjected to a lot of stress and strain over a period of time. Foot abnormalities, excessive body weight, ill fitted shoes, overuse during sports activities like running, etc., are some of the factors that puts pressure on the ligament repeatedly, which results in complete rupture of the ligament.
Initially, the small tears that develop, heal up on their own with the production of new collagen fibers. However, repetitive injury causes degeneration of the structural components, and it cannot be repaired anymore. This eventually results in a rupture. Sometimes, it can occur due to a sudden traumatic injury caused due to falling from a height on one foot or landing the foot on an object that can cause damage in the foot ligament.
The most common symptoms are pain and swelling at the bottom of the foot. A unique characteristic of this pain is that its intensity is very high in the morning, and it decreases with passage of time. However, it never disappears and persists throughout the day. It gets aggravated with strenuous activities, and you feel better when the foot is rested.
This injury is diagnosed with the help of its symptoms, physical examination of the foot, and laboratory tests, like the MRI scan. The MRI report reveals the severity of the injury and the treatment is carried out accordingly. It is mostly treated with conservative methods of treatment.
The patient is first advised to suspend all such activities that can aggravate the painful symptoms, and the injured foot has to be rested as much as possible. Ice application brings a lot of relief from the pain and inflammation. When the foot pain is unbearable, anti-inflammatory medicines or cortisone injections are used to control it.
Shoe inserts are helpful for adding stability to the foot. It has to be inserted into the shoes before wearing them, and it eases off the pain and discomfort to a great extent. It can be used even after the tear is healed up to prevent any further injury to the ligament. Doctors often recommend the use of night splints so that the heel remain stretched throughout the night. This will prevent any cramp in the arch of the foot and the intensity of the pain in the morning will be less.
Physical therapy is another effective treatment. Here, ultrasound vibrations and muscular stimulation are used to relax the taut injury site. Some gentle stretching exercises are good for easing off the tension from the soft tissues of the foot area, and ensure faster healing of the torn ligament. It will also add strength and flexibility to the muscles and joints. It is advisable that these exercises are carried out under the supervision of experts to avoid any new injuries.
The recovery time depends on the severity of the injury, and it varies in between 7-12 weeks. During this time, you have to strictly follow all the guidelines provided by the physician. Even after healing the torn ligament, you should be extra careful to prevent such rupture all over again. Those who have foot problems should fit orthotic inserts in their shoes. Those who are obese should lose weight to minimize the pressure on the foot.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.