Plantar fasciitis is a common foot injury caused by overuse. It occurs when the plantar fascia, the thick band of tissue that connects the heel to the toes, becomes inflamed. This inflammation results in pain on the bottom of the heel area. This foot pain can worsen over time and often feels most severe after resting or sitting. There are a variety of treatments available for plantar fasciitis that can help get you back on your feet again.
Common Causes and Signs of Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis can be caused by a variety of factors. Those who run or have just started a running program are more at risk for developing this condition. It can also be caused by having a flat foot or high arches. You can also develop plantar fasciitis if you stand on your feet for long periods of time, are overweight, or wear shoes that have little or no support.
Plantar fasciitis often develops over time, and each person’s condition can vary. However, there are some common symptoms to watch for, including:
- Dull and/or stabbing pain in the heel
- Increased pain following exercise (but not during exercise)
- Pain in the arch of the foot
- Pain when getting out of bed in the morning and after standing/sitting for long periods of time
- Heel swelling
- Foot pain that persists for many months
- Tightness in your Achilles tendon
If you are experiencing pain in the heel of your foot or have symptoms of plantar fasciitis, consult an experienced podiatrist for a consultation. A podiatrist will document your medical history and perform an exam of your foot. Because diagnosing plantar fasciitis is a process of elimination, your doctor will ask you many questions and may order other tests to rule out problems such as a cyst, tendonitis, or arthritis.
Conservative Treatment Options
Conservative treatments for plantar fasciitis are typically recommended. Only the most severe cases or ones that reoccur require surgery. Conservative treatment options may include:
- Rest. It is important to rest your foot in order to reduce inflammation. If you begin to experience pain in your feet, rest and do not apply weight to the affected foot.
- Ice. Applying ice several times a day can help relieve pain and inflammation in the bottom of the foot.
- Shoes. Wear shoes that are not only comfortable but provide support in the arch and have good cushioning. Discard any shoes that are worn out.
- Medication. A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) can be used to relieve pain and inflammation.
- Stretching exercises. Stretching the bottom of the foot, Achilles tendon, and calves can help ease pain and strengthen the muscles in the feet. It’s also helpful to stretch out and separate your toes.
- Massage. You can massage the bottoms of your feet to provide relief from pain and to reduce tightness in the bottom of the feet. Use a simple massage technique by rolling your foot over a tennis or golf ball concentrating on any areas of tenderness or pain. Massage can be done any time of day and whenever you feel tightness in your foot.
- Athletic tape. Athletic tape can be used to provide support to the foot muscles and ligaments and to help keep your feet in the proper position.
- Custom orthotics. Custom orthotics can be worn inside the shoes to provide additional cushioning and support.
- Night splint. A night splint can be worn to hold the foot in a flexed position while sleeping.
- Steroid injection. A cortisone injection can be given to decrease inflammation in the heel.
There are several tips to consider that can help prevent plantar fasciitis. It is important to wear the proper footwear for whatever activity you take part in. Wear shoes that support your feet and cushion your heel. You can use an orthotic in your shoes for added support. In addition, always stretch your plantar fascia before running or doing any physical activity, and avoid running on areas that have hard surfaces.
Contact an Experienced Podiatrist
If you have heel pain from plantar fasciitis and have questions about treatment options, contact Capital Podiatry Associates for help. Contact our office today to request an appointment with one of our podiatrists. To book an appointment in our office or through telemedicine, call us, or fill out our online contact form.