Plantar Fasciitis: Causes and Treatment
Of the different types of pains occurring in the heel, plantar fasciitis is one of the most common. Its name derives from the area of pain and inflammation: a thick band of tissue called the plantar fascia, which runs across the bottom of your foot. Because the plantar fascia connects your heel bone to your toes, the stabbing pain or deep ache associated with the ailment generally occurs when you take your very first steps in the morning (the “morning hobble”) as the affected foot tries to heal itself in a contracted position through the night.
The pain associated with the plantar fascia normally lessens as your foot limbers up, although it may recur during the day, especially after a prolonged period of standing, or when getting up after having been in a seated position for a while.
Common Causes for Plantar Fasciitis
- Age. Plantar fasciitis is most common in active men and women between the ages of 40 and 60.
- Certain types of exercise. Activities that place repetitive stress on your heel and attached tissue, such as long-distance running, ballet dancing and dance aerobics on hard surfaces, can contribute to an early onset of plantar fasciitis.
- Faulty foot mechanics. Being flat-footed, having a high arch, or even having an abnormal pattern of walking can adversely affect the way weight is distributed when you’re standing and put additional stress on the plantar fascia.
- Obesity. Excess pounds put extra stress on your plantar fascia.
- Occupation. Factory workers, teachers, restaurant servers and others who spend most of their work hours walking or standing on hard surfaces have a higher risk of damaging their plantar fascia.
Importance of Treatment
If plantar fasciitis is left untreated, it may become a chronic condition. You may not be able to keep up your current level and range of activities, and you may even develop symptoms of foot, knee, hip and back problems because plantar fasciitis can affect the way you walk.
How to Cope with Plantar Fasciitis
- Stay off your feet as much as possible
- Apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes, three to four times per day to reduce swelling
- Reduce or change your exercise routine
- Use arch supports in your shoes
- Do stretching exercises that stretch the Plantar Fascia
- Use anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen
If home treatments fail to bring relief to the plantar fascia, your doctor may opt for an injection of a corticosteroid directly into the damaged section of the ligament, which can help. A procedure that doctors can carry out in their office, they may use an ultrasound device to first determine the best injection site. They may also apply corticosteroids to the skin of your heel or the arch of your foot, followed by a painless electrical current to let the steroid pass through your skin and into the muscle.
Physical therapy can act as ongoing prevention for plantar fascia pain. A physical therapist can also show you exercises to strengthen your lower leg muscles, helping to stabilize your walk and lessen the workload on your plantar fascia.
Prevention for Plantar Fasciitis
To prevent plantar fasciitis, reduce the amount of time spent standing on a hard surface. Exercise on soft surfaces whenever possible, and visit a specialist to make sure you’re wearing the proper shoes for your foot type and gait. It is also beneficial to stretch the plantar fascia regularly. While it’s typical to experience pain in just one foot, massage and stretch both feet first thing in the morning, and three times during the day. It is especially important to stretch adequately before your exercise routine.
Stretching Exercises for the Plantar Fascia
Sit down, and place the affected foot across your knee. Using the hand on your affected side, pull your toes back toward your shin until you feel a stretch in your arch. Run your thumb along your foot–you should feel tension. Hold for a count of 10. Do this stretch first thing in the morning and at least three times during the day and before exercising.
Book an Appointment with Dr. Vikki and Dr. Connie
If you suspect you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis, be sure to get in contact with Dr. Vikki and Dr. Connie. They can help you get to the bottom of your foot pain problem and provide you with the right treatment plan.