Does your heel hurt when you get out of bed in the morning? Does it improve only to flare again after periods of rest? These are symptoms commonly associated with plantar fasciitis, a condition causing heel and bottom of the foot pain for as much as 10 percent of the population. Fortunately, when properly treated and with the right precautions, most cases of plantar fasciitis resolve with conservative treatment methods.
How Does Plantar Fasciitis Develop?
Plantar fasciitis is inflammation and irritation of the plantar fascia. This thick band of tissue runs the length of the bottom of the foot, connecting the heel bone to the ball of the foot and providing support for the arch. In the vast majority of cases, the condition develops as a result of overuse. It is most commonly seen in those whose jobs require long periods of time spent on their feet, athletes, and those who have flat feet or high arches.
What are the Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
The most common symptom associated with plantar fasciitis is a stabbing pain that occurs at the bottom of the heel. This pain is typically at its worst with the first steps taken in the morning or after standing from a prolonged period of rest. Contrary to what many assume, the pain from plantar fasciitis is not as bothersome during physical activity. Rather, patients are actually more likely to experience discomfort afterward.
Treatment Methods for Plantar Fasciitis
While some patients will go on to require surgical release of the plantar fascia, the vast majority of patients will find that more conservative treatment options offer adequate relief. Among those that a podiatrist may recommend are:
- Physical Therapy – Special exercises to both stretch and strengthen the structures of the foot and lower leg will help stabilize the area and prevent future irritation.
- Night Splints – In cases where stretching exercises alone are not enough, patients may need to wear a splint overnight. These splints maintain the foot in a flexed position, gently stretching both the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon during sleep.
- Orthotics – Poor shoe selection and arch support can contribute to and aggravate plantar fasciitis. For some patients, special shoe inserts known as orthotics can help remedy these issues. These may be purchased at any drug store or custom-fit based on the patient’s specific needs.
If you are suffering from heel pain that resembles that of plantar fasciitis, prompt care is important to bring relief. Contact a local podiatrist such as Dr. Kyle Lindow for a complete examination and treatment recommendations to get you back to pain-free mobility.