If you suffer from chronic heel pain that feels especially intense after you've been off your feet for a long time, you may be dealing with a common ailment known as plantar fasciitis. The good news is that you don't have to let this form of chronic connective tissue pain sabotage your everyday life, nor do you need surgery to relieve your symptoms. Let's look at the causes and symptoms of plantar fasciitis, along with some conservative care options that can put you happily back on your feet.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is an irritation of a specific band of tissue called plantar fascia. This tissue runs from the base of the heel up through the ball of the foot, acting as a tensioner and a shock absorber that helps reinforce the medial longitudinal arch. The medial longitudinal arch plays a critical role in helping your feet support and distribute your entire body weight comfortably.
Since the plantar fascia has a hard job to do, it's no surprise that it can be inflamed in a number of ways. Your plantar fasciitis may be caused or aggravated by such factors as:
- An occupation that requires long hours of standing in place
- Ill-fitting or non-supportive shoes such as high heels
- Overuse or repetitive strain from running, dancing, or some other demanding activity
- Age (with a higher risk between ages 40 and 70)
- A musculoskeletal imbalance that affects your weight distribution, stance, or gait
- Uneven, high, or low arches
- Obesity or pregnancy (which adds to the stress on the arches)
- The development of bone spurs at the heel
Chronic heel pain is the hallmark symptom of plantar fasciitis. It differs from other forms of heel pain in that you tend to feel it most intensely, not during foot exertion, but afterward. The pain tends to be at its worst when you first get out of bed in the morning and try to walk on the afflicted foot or feet. That stabbing sensation then lessens as you continue to use the foot -- only to start bothering you again after several hours of exertion.
A Variety of Non-Invasive Treatment Methods
Like many kinds of connective tissue strain, plantar fasciitis usually responds well to non-invasive treatment methods. Here are some of the techniques we can use to help you gain long-term relief from that stabbing pain in your heel:
- Stretching exercises - Exercises to stretch the calf and foot muscles can provide gentle, safe relief -- or even prevent the development of plantar fasciitis.
- Splinting or bracing - Night splints are often prescribed to help hold the foot at a specific angle as you sleep, preventing the tissues from tightening and shortening. Adjustable, flexible braces can also be prescribed for daytime wear.
- Heat and cold - Applying moist heat to your heel can heal ease morning plantar fascia pain. Cold applications at bedtime can also prove helpful.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs - NSAIDs can help reduce or manage mild-to-moderate plantar fasciitis inflammation. For more acute or severe inflammation, we may recommend steroid injections.
- Orthotics - We can fit you with customized orthotic inserts that give your arches extra support and balance your weight distribution.
- Lifestyle changes - Weight loss, a switch to more supportive shoes, and other changes to your daily routine can all help you minimize or prevent plantar fasciitis.
Get the Relief You Seek at Premier Podiatry
Dr. Velimir Petkov and our staff at Premier Podiatry will be more than happy to help you stop suffering every morning so you greet the new day with a smile. Contact us
today to learn more about how we treat plantar fasciitis pain.