Heel Pain Due to Plantar Fasciitis
If you get hit with heel pain when you wake up and put your feet on the floor each morning, then plantar fasciitis is a condition that should be on your radar.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain in the patients we see. Fortunately, it is also a highly treatable condition. The vast majority of plantar fasciitis patients will find substantial to complete relief of their symptoms within a few months of starting treatment – and almost always without the need for surgery.
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What Are the Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
The morning heel pain noted above is one of the most well-known symptoms of plantar fasciitis. This pain can often come across as “dull” or “stabbing,” located toward the arch or heel. It will typically take a minute or two of moving around before the pain starts to recede.
Similar bouts of pain can occur when you start moving after a long period of inactivity, such as sitting down or standing still. Pain may also be worse after exercising, but usually not while you’re active.
The pain will tend to increase and decrease depending on the situation, but will continue to make itself known on a daily or near-daily basis. Any sort of discomfort like that should be evaluated by a podiatrist.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is a band of strong tissue that runs beneath the foot, from the base of the toes to the heel bone. It helps form the arch of the foot and flexes during movement, storing and releasing energy that aids in locomotion.
If the plantar fascia endures too much pressure or strain, it can cause inflammation and tiny tears within the tissue. This results in pain.
Why does the pain tend to be worse after inactivity, though? During inactivity, your plantar fascia is in a resting position, and your body is able to try and heal the minute tears in the tissue. Once you start moving and flexing the foot again, however, it re-tears those healing areas, causing pain to increase.
Who is More at Risk for Plantar Fasciitis?
Certain factors can increase your risk of excess strain on the plantar fascia, including:
- Having a job or hobby that involves standing for hours at a time each day, especially on hard surfaces
- Overuse, such as exercising at too high an intensity level or enduring long periods of repetitive impacts (e.g. distance running) without providing enough opportunity to rest and recover
- Having tight Achilles tendons or calf muscles
- Having flat feet or high arches
- Wearing worn-out shoes, high heels, or other footwear that does not provide good arch support
- Being overweight
Treating Plantar Fasciitis
Since a number of different factors can contribute to plantar fasciitis, it is important that we identify and properly address them for best and long-lasting results.
When you come to see us for your heel pain, we will conduct a physical examination as well as ask you questions about your symptoms and how they affect your life. Bringing a pair of well-used shoes with you can also help, as looking at their wear patterns can tell us a lot about any potential gait problems you might have.
Once we have a firm understanding of the situation, we can recommend a course of treatment to address your specific needs. Components of a conservative treatment plan may include one or more of the following:
- Rest and ice
- Changes in footwear
- Changes in workout routines or intensity
- The use of custom orthotics to redistribute excess weight away from the plantar fascia
- Night splints to hold the plantar fascia in a stretched position overnight, lessening morning pain
- Stretching routines to condition the calf muscles, Achilles tendons, and plantar fascia
- Advanced treatments such as MLS laser therapy to promote accelerated soft tissue healing
Surgery is rarely necessary for plantar fasciitis, and might only be considered if conservative methods have not provided the results you need.
Take Action on Your Heel Pain
Plantar fasciitis is not something you “just have to learn to live with.” The sooner you begin treatment, the sooner you can begin to find relief and reclaim your days.
Contact either of our area offices to schedule an appointment. Call (908) 687-5757 for our Roselle Park office or (609) 924-8333 for our Princeton office.