Plantar Fasciitis

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Millions of Americans struggle with some form of chronic heel pain, and of all the possible culprits, plantar fasciitis is regarded as the most common. Plantar fasciitis can affect one or both heels and the same time, and is generally the result of repetitive stress and overuse, making it particularly common among athletes, those who have jobs or hobbies that keep them on their feet, and those who are overweight.

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis refers to inflammation, swelling, or tearing in the plantar fascia, a thick band of fibrous tissue that extends across the bottom of your foot from the front of the heel and across the arch to your toes. A healthy plantar fascia acts as a shock absorber for your arch, but too much pressure can create tiny tears in the fabric of the tissue, leading to irritation and pain with each step.

Identifying Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms

The symptoms of plantar fasciitis can overlap significantly with other heel pain conditions like Achilles tendinitis, bursitis, or even compressed nerves. However, there are some telltale signs.

Most significantly, plantar fasciitis pain tends to be worst in the early morning or after a lengthy sit. For 10-15 minutes it may feel like you’re walking on knives, but in time the pain dulls as the plantar fascia slowly stretches and relaxes a bit. Because plantar fasciitis is an overuse injury, the symptoms tend to get gradually worse over time until the condition is successfully treated.

Successful Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis

For more minor cases, the pain may resolve naturally in time with adequate rest and home management. However, plantar fasciitis that is particularly painful or has become chronic can be more challenging to eliminate, partially due to the presence of scar tissue (which is harder for the body to heal on its own).

Traditional treatments include a mix of RICE therapy (rest, ice, compression, elevation), physical therapy and stretching programs to help relax the plantar fascia and strengthen lower leg muscles, and splints that are worn at night to stretch your calves, plantar fascia, and Achilles tendon as you sleep. Custom orthotics may also be recommended to provide additional cushioning and shock absorption, as well as correct any underlying foot problems that may be contributing to your heel pain (such as flat feet or high arches).

Plantar Fasciitis Prevention Strategies

As an overuse injury, plantar fasciitis can often be prevented or at least minimized by modifying activities or environmental factors. For starters, make sure you’re wearing an appropriate pair of shoes that provides proper support and shock absorption—if your athletic sneakers are looking a little worn out, it’s time to replace them. Second, if you’re an avid runner or high-impact athlete (such as basketball player), try easing up on those activities a bit and replacing some of that training time with low-impact alternatives like walking or cycling, or running on softer and more level surfaces.

If stabbing heel pain is making your mornings miserable, and keeping you from enjoying daily activities and hobbies, please seek treatment as soon as possible, rather than hoping it’ll go away on its own. Let Premier Podiatry Group get you back on your feet. To schedule an appointment with us in Ebensburg, PA, fill out our online contact form or give us a call at (814) 472-2660.