Treating Heel Pain Caused by Plantar Fasciitis
If you are suffering from persistent heel pain—and plantar fasciitis is a common diagnosis if you are—the most important thing about any treatment is that it works.
Many people out there have tried one or two things at home to try to soothe their discomfort, only for those remedies not to hit the mark. Pain relief was either minimal or didn’t happen at all. Perhaps that describes your experience, too.
When treatments don’t work, it’s usually not because you did anything wrong or that you have some monstrous case of heel pain that just can’t be stopped. It’s more likely that the treatment you attempted simply doesn’t properly address the specific factors causing your pain.
Even when we diagnose a condition responsible for heel pain, such as plantar fasciitis, that still doesn’t mean every patient with the condition will necessarily receive the same treatment recommendations for it.
While plantar fasciitis signifies the same general problem, the root causes can still be different! That’s why we have multiple forms of treatment, and always seek the route that will best suit the causes and individual patient needs in each case.
Just What Are We Treating, Here?
To understand what we’re talking about a bit more clearly, let’s examine what plantar fasciitis is and what can cause it to develop.
The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs along the underside of the foot. It connects the heel bone to the base of the toes, and plays an important role in storing and releasing energy while walking.
Plantar fasciitis occurs when this band of tissue is forced to endure more stress than it is conditioned to take, stretching it too far and causing tiny tears to develop. This is what causes the aggravation and pain – especially in the morning, as the plantar fascia is forced to stretch again after a long period of rest.
So we know what the problem is, but how did the plantar fascia become so stressed? That’s where paths can diverge.
There are many potential reasons why your plantar fascia might have been damaged. Some of the most common include:
- You strained the plantar fascia too hard during one particular exercise or movement.
- You forced the plantar fascia to sustain repetitive stress and impacts (such as over long distance running) without providing the body enough time to rest and recover.
- Your job or lifestyle requires you to stand or stoop for long periods of time, especially on very hard surfaces.
- You frequently wear improper footwear that doesn’t properly support the plantar fascia.
- You have an abnormality in your foot structure that causes too much pressure to be shifted onto the plantar fascia.
Some causes are environmental. Others are choices and habits. Still others you could simply have been born with. There isn’t necessarily just one single cause either; there are often multiple factors contributing to your pain.
Proper treatment for any specific case of plantar fasciitis, then, involves not only addressing the recovery of the plantar fascia, but also the causes of its strain. After all, what good is it to heal the current injury if the damage is still likely to happen again and again?
Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis
The most effective first step does not involve actual treatment at all. We must determine the roots of your heel pain, and that will require a thorough examination.
That examination will almost always include asking you questions about your pain, when it’s at its worst, and how it affects your life. Please don’t hesitate to mention anything you feel may be relevant to your case that we might not ask about. It can also help to bring in a pair of well-used shoes so we can examine their tread wear for more information.
Once we have a firm understanding of the factors surrounding your plantar fasciitis (if that is indeed the ultimate diagnosis), we can recommend a course of treatment aimed at effectively resolving your current symptoms and helping to prevent future trouble.
What might be included in a treatment plan?
- Traditional rest, including icing, compression, and elevation (aka RICE therapy). Sometimes simple methods can still have a great effect.
- Prescribing custom orthotics to shift excess weight and forces away from the plantar fascia.
- Simple strength and conditioning exercises to increase endurance and flexibility of the plantar fascia, as well as other elements that connect to it.
- Corticosteroid injections to reduce pain and swelling.
- Changes to footwear and/or activity routines.
In very uncommon cases, conservative treatments will not yield the results we need. Surgery might be considered at these times, and we will fully discuss all options and answer every question you may have regarding a potential procedure before you make any decision on how to move forward.
In the vast majority of circumstances, however, properly determining and addressing the sources of your plantar fasciitis will effectively treat it!
Find the Right Treatment for Your Heel Pain
Remember: past failures in home treatment do not mean a hopeless future! We will get to the root of your heel pain and provide the care you need.
Call our Colorado Springs office at (719) 266-5000 to schedule an appointment. And if you prefer to have an initial consultation over a video call, simply ask us about our telemedicine appointment option.
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In our guide, you’ll learn more about:
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- When you should see a doctor if you have concerns or an injury
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