Foot pain can be some of the worst pain to experience. Whether you’re an athletic person or lead a more sedentary lifestyle, experiencing pain when you stand, walk, or run can be enough to make you want to stop all activity until the pain is gone. Pain from plantar fasciitis can be something that affects your mobility and can lead to long-term pain and disability if left untreated. Learn more about this condition and what can be done to diagnose and treat it.
What is the Plantar Fascia?Sometimes called plantar heel pain, plantar fasciitis occurs when the thick, fibrous band of tissue called the plantar fascia that connects your heel bone to your toes becomes inflamed. The plantar fascia supports the arch of your foot and is a ligament made of collagen, a more rigid protein than what makes up a tendon.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?There are a number of causes associated with plantar fasciitis. For example, anything that puts extra stress on your fee, such as poorly cushioned or ill fitting shoes, can lead to plantar fasciitis. Pain may be more prominent when the patient first wake up in the morning or after they have been sitting for prolonged periods of time. Your weight and age may also affect your plantar fascia; middle age adults and people who are overweight are more prone to plantar fasciitis. If you do repetitive activities on a day-to-day basis such as prolonged standing or walking, or activities like running, you may experience pain related to an irritated or inflamed plantar fascia. Interestingly enough, while people sometimes attribute plantar fasciitis with heel spurs, it has now been found that plantar fasciitis leads to the development of heel spurs rather than heel spurs causing plantar fasciitis.
Plantar Fasciitis Diagnosis and TreatmentA podiatrist often only needs to perform a physical exam in order to determine if a patient has plantar fasciitis. From there, they can come up with a treatment plan which may include:
- Rest – If exercise or repetitive motions are causing plantar fasciitis, the foot doctor may prescribe rest.
- Ice and Anti-Inflammatory Medications – Putting ice on your heel and taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin, for example) or naproxen (Aleve, for example) in order to reduce pain.
- Better Shoes – The condition of your shoes may be causing inflammation in your plantar fascia. Shoes with better arch support, well-cushioned soles, and improved shock absorption can reduce the inflammation and, ultimately, the heel pain.
- Orthotics and Better Foot Support – If you tend to go barefoot around your house or wear slippers, wear shoes as soon as you wake up in order to give your feet more stability. If you wear different types of shoes depending on the occasion, shoe inserts such as orthotics can be helpful to have because they can be moved from one pair of shoes to another and are molded to your feet.
- Foot Exercises – Stretching your calves, doing toe exercises, and other types of exercises that can directly improve your ligament will help make it more flexible and reduce your plantar fasciitis pain.