Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. Heel pain may also occur as a result of stress fractures, arthritis, tendonitis and occasionally, a cyst. Since there are several causes for heel pain, it is critical to get proper diagnosis to determine appropriate treatment.
Plantar fasciitis involves inflammation and pain of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes, running across the bottom of your foot. The plantar fascia first becomes irritated and then inflamed, thus causing heel pain.
The condition may cause a stabbing pain when you make your first steps after waking up in the morning. Pain may decrease when your foot limbers up but it may come back after getting up from a seated position or after prolonged periods of standing.
Plantar fasciitis can take place in anybody, but it is particularly common in runners. Moreover, people who wear shoes with inadequate support or people who are overweight may also be at risk.
Who's At Risk Of Plantar Fasciitis?
The following are some of the most common contributing factors for plantar fasciitis:
- Faulty foot structure. People with high-arched feet or overly flat feet may be at risk
- Inappropriate footwear. Non-supportive footwear and high heels apply abnormal stress on your plantar fascia, thus contributing to plantar fasciitis
- Occupation. Jobs that require prolonged periods of standing may put a person at risk
- Being obese or overweight. Excess weight may put too much strain on your feet and hence, increase your risk
Normally your plantar fascia is a thick shock-absorbing bowstring that supports the arch of your foot. Excessive tension on this bowstring may result in small tears. Repeated stretching and tearing may lead to irritation and inflammation of the fascia.
Signs and symptoms
Plantar fasciitis usually causes a stabbing pain near your heel at the bottom of your foot. The pain often worsens during the first few steps after waking up. Pain can be triggered from prolonged standing and getting up from a seated position.
Plantar Fasciitis Treatment Options
To reduce pain from plantar fasciitis, try these techniques:
- Perform stretching exercises. Exercises designed for stretching your calf muscles may help in easing pain and aiding with recovery.
- Avoid walking barefoot. Walking without shoes applies excessive stress and strain on the plantar fascia.
- Ice the affected area. Apply an ice pack on your heel for 20 minutes several times per day to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Limit physical activities. Reduce the intensity of your workouts and cut down on weight bearing activities to allow your heel to rest and recover.
- Medications. OTC pain medications such as ibuprofen may help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Use foot sleeves that are designed for plantar fasciitis.
If pain persists, see a healthcare professional. The foot or ankle surgeon may recommend the following approaches:
- Orthotic devices to correct structural abnormalities of the foot
- Padding and strapping to reduce strain while walking and add support to the fascia
- Removable walking cast to immobilize the foot for a few weeks so that the foot can rest and recover effectively
- Night splint to maintain the stretch of the fascia while you’re asleep. This may reduce pain in the morning
- Physical therapy exercises to help provide relief
- Surgery if patients don’t respond to non-surgical treatment. Surgery is often required in rare occasions and is typically the last resort for treating plantar fasciitis
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