Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar?
- When you first put your feet on the floor each morning, you can expect a dull or sharp jolt of pain through one or both heels. After moving for a few minutes, the pain tends to recede.
- Heel pain arises many times after you start moving again from a long period of rest or inactivity.
- Heel pain is worse after you exercise for a while, but usually not while you are moving.
- Pain is located mainly at the bottom of the heel or beneath the mid-foot area.
If you said yes to one or more of the above, there is a good chance you have plantar fasciitis—and a 100% chance you have a heel pain condition that deserves a professional look and treatment by our doctors!
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain, and a condition we see come through our doors regularly.
The problem concerns the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, from the heel bone to the base of the toes. The plantar fascia helps to form the arch of each foot, and flexes as we walk to help us with movement.
While the plantar fascia is a very strong band, it can experience more than its fair share of stress. When over-strained, the plantar fascia can develop tiny tears and become aggravated. This is plantar fasciitis, and it can cause the symptoms we described above.
Why Does the Pain Come and Go As I Move?
The plantar fascia steadily stretches and contracts as part of its job. When we are at rest—either sleeping or just generally being still—it too is at rest, usually in a contracted state. During this time, the body is often attempting to repair the damage.
However, once we start moving again, the plantar fascia is forced to stretch, often undoing much of the repair work. Like other soft tissues, the plantar fascia must “warm up” as it stretches again, to become more flexible. That is why the pain tends to lessen as you move.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
The root causes of plantar fasciitis almost always related to placing too much stress on the plantar fascia—either all at once or repetitively over the course of time.
Potential causes of plantar fasciitis can include:
- Overuse – in other words, working out more intensely than the plantar fascia can (currently) handle, or forcing it to undergo long periods of stress without providing proper time for rest and recovery.
- Work conditions. Having to spend all day on your feet or stooping, especially on hard surfaces.
- Obesity or rapid changes in weight. The more weight you have, the more force is placed on the plantar fascia. However, losing weight often translates to more movement, which can also place more overall stress on the plantar fascia.
- Structural abnormalities. Having flat feet, high arches, or tight Achilles tendons can all place excess stress on the heel and the plantar fascia.
Sometimes, more than one factor is contributing to a case of plantar fasciitis.
Treating Plantar Fasciitis
The first step toward any effective treatment plan for plantar fasciitis is properly identifying all of the factors contributing to it.
When you come to see us, we will perform not only a comprehensive physical evaluation, but discuss your circumstances with you. We want to know how your heel pain is affecting your life, when it’s worst, and answers to other questions to aid our diagnosis.
Once we have a firm understanding of the problem, we can recommend a course of treatment. A plan might include one or more of the following:
- A period of rest to allow the plantar fascia more opportunity to recover.
- Stretches and exercises that can better condition the plantar fascia and connected elements (such as the Achilles tendons and calf muscles).
- The use of custom orthotics to shift excess force away from the plantar fascia.
- Injections of corticosteroids to reduce pain and swelling.
- In rare cases, surgery.
The sooner that plantar fasciitis is addressed, the faster and more effectively you can typically find relief! Our doctors are always ready to help patients find solutions to their heel pain, and we are more than happy to help you, too.
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