Managing Plantar Fasciitis
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a common type of heel pain amongst adults. So common in fact that it affects over 1 Million persons per year. It develops when the thick bands of tissue that runs lengthwise across the bottom of your foot which connects your heel to your toes—called plantar fascia—become inflamed and painful. Most times, you feel a sharp stabbing-like pain on the bottom of your foot that occurs mostly but not all the time in the mornings.
Plantar fasciitis is very common amongst runners, those who are overweight, and people who were unsupportive shoes—did someone say sandals?
If you are experiencing such pain, especially after sports or a long day on your feet, you may want to check with your doctor to see if it could be plantar fasciitis.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis typically causes a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot near the heel. The pain is usually the worst right when you wake up and take those first steps if the day. Ironically, the pain is usually worse after you work out but not during.
Symptoms may include:
- Sharp, stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot
- More pain in the morning vs afternoon/evening
- Pain is worse after exercise but not during.
Your plantar fasciitis is shaped like a bowstring and supports your arch in your foot. Tension and stress on your foot can create small tears in your fascia. These tears combine with repeated stretching can irritate your plantar fascia although in many cases the plantar fasciitis cause is unclear and seemingly out of the blue.
Age: Most common between 40-60.
Types of Exercise: Maneuvers or actions that put a lot of stress on your heel.
Anatomy: flat feet or an abnormally high arch can affect the way that your weight is distributed when standing in place for a period of time.
Weight: Excessive weight can put extra stress on your plantar fascia.
Work: If you are on your feet all day, this could exacerbate your plantar fascia.
Managing Plantar Fasciitis
Physical Therapy and Stretching
A physical therapist can show you a series of exercises to help you stretch your plantar fascia and Achilles tendon which can help you strengthen your lower leg muscles. An athletic tap, as advised by your therapist, may also help.
Wear a brace for plantar fasciitis when participating in sports or long workdays. This can help prevent pain so you can keep playing and working.
Your physical therapist or doctor might recommend that you wear a night splint that stretches your calf and the arch of your foot while you sleep. You can get a one-two punch with this method.
Your doctor might prescribe off-the-shelf arch supports (orthotics) to help you distribute pressure to your feet more evenly.
Home Treatment and Prevention
It’s important to do simple ankle exercises to strengthen ligaments and muscles while working on your range of motion (ROM) and flexibility. Massage may also help ease the overworked tendons of the foot. It’s important to remember that you are on your feet all day so having the right shoes—i.e. supportive footwear—is paramount. Cold Therapy might also be a great way for you to reduce pain and inflammation.
Conservative treatment is always best. Whoever, if that fails then there are several other options you can explore to relieve the pain and inflammation.
Injections: Steroid injections to the affected area can temporarily relieve some pain.
Shock Wave Therapy: In this procedure, sound waves are directed to the heel and stimulate healing.
Walking Boot: Often, physicians will recommend a walking boot to help reduce the inflammation.
Surgery: If pain persists and is severe enough, your surgeon may recommend surgery.