Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common orthopedic conditions that cause severe pain in the bottom of the heel. This condition involves inflammation and pain of a thick band of tissue, known as the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia connects the front of your foot with your heel, helping you to walk, and support the arch in your feet.
severe heel pain
When too much pressure is exerted on feet, it can cause damage to the plantar fascia. This results in stiffness and heel pain because of the inflammation of the plantar fascia. This condition is most common in runners as well as people who are obese and those who wear shoes that lack adequate support.
Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
There are several factors that can together or solely contribute to plantar fasciitis. This condition is more common in men as compared to women. The risk of this condition increases as you age. Here is a list of some other causes that can result in plantar fasciitis.
- You are on your feet for many hours each day.
- You are suffering from medical conditions, such as lupus or rheumatoid
- If you are overweight or obese
- Having flat feet
- Having heel cords, or tight Achilles
- You have suddenly increased your exercise intensity or recently taken up a new form of exercise.
- Having feet of unusually high arch
- You have legs having uneven length
- You used to wear shoes with high heels, but now switched to flat shoes all of a sudden
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
The main two symptoms of plantar fasciitis include the following:
Feeling pain at the center or front of the heel bone.
Feeling pain that gets worse when first you rise in the morning. This type of pain is also known as first-step pain. This may occur when you first stand up after resting or sitting for a long period of time.
Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis
One of the most significant approaches for treating Plantar Fasciitis is to reduce inflammation in the plantar fascia ligament.
Different Options for Treating Plantar Fasciitis
According to most medical professionals, you’ll want to start treatment as soon as you start to feel a twinge in your heel, to prevent further inflammation and help speed up the recovery time.
One of the treatments that are highly recommended is the RICE method. This is simple to explain, and even simpler to do for treatment.
The “R” stands for rest. What you’ll need to do is rest your heel, and take any stress off of the plantar fascia. Next up is the “I”, which stands for ice. While you’re resting your heel, you’ll want to ice it as well, in order to help the inflammation subside. Following that, you’ll want to compress, which is the “C”, your heel, which helps with any swelling and pain. Finally, the last step in the RICE method is “E”, which is to elevate your heel for at least 10 minutes.
You’ll want to follow this method at least two to three times a day in order to help with your plantar fasciitis.
Exercises and Stretching
Another treatment that is the most highly recommended, as well as being what most experts have described as the one that works the best, is stretching. It’s best to stretch your calf muscles, your Achilles tendon, and your arches. This not only works well to help relieve the pain from plantar fasciitis, but it will help you prevent recurrence of the injury.
According to the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, there are a couple of exercises that they say will help with plantar fasciitis the best. Below is one of the exercises that they recommend, so that you can perform it to help with your plantar fasciitis. If you’d like to see the other exercises, visit www.aofas.org.
In one of the exercises, you lean forward into a wall with one knee straight with the heel on the ground. Your other knee will be bent. This exercise stretches your heel cord and foot arch when you do it. Hold this position for ten seconds, then relax and straighten up. You’ll want to repeat this twenty times for each sore heel, keeping in mind that you’ll get your best results if your knee is fully extended on the side that is getting stretched.
If you are a woman and you are overweight, then strongly consider losing weight. Plantar fasciitis is more likely to hit overweight Women than overweight men since the fat content deposits on the lower part of the body. This causes great tension in the plantar fascia tissue and also if there is no greater flexibility in the calf muscles.
If the pain is too severe, you can take a Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to help with the inflammation and provide some pain relief. Some people have reported, however, that this doesn’t always work, so keep that in mind. In addition, you’ll want to speak with your doctor prior to starting any at-home medication treatment.
Orthotic Shoes & Slippers
Lastly, one of the most underrated ways to deal with plantar fasciitis is to wear shoes with better orthotic support. A lot of people don’t think about this, but having better orthotic support on your heel will help relieve the stress from your plantar fascia, aiding in pain relief and recovery time.
Treatment options if the case is extreme and severe
Those are the simple methods, but in severe cases, there are additional steps that may need to be taken. These are not near as common as the treatments recommended above, but they do have to be done occasionally.
Your physical therapist or doctor may recommend that you wear a splint at night that will stretch your calf and your arch while you sleep. These night splints hold the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon in place overnight, which will facilitate the stretching of both the muscle and tendon.
When the normal conservative measures are not working, there are a couple of options for your doctors. One of these is taking steroid shots. By injecting a steroid medication into the area of your heel that is tender, you can receive temporary pain relief. Keep in mind, however, that multiple injections are not recommended as they can shrink your plantar fascia and could even cause it to rupture in severe circumstances.
In addition, your doctor may try shock wave therapy. Although this method has not been shown to be consistently effective, it’s typically used on the more stubborn cases that refuse to heal. According to the Mayo Clinic, in this method sound waves are directed at the area of the heel pain to stimulate healing. This can cause bruises, swelling, pain, and numbness or tingling.
As a last resort, your doctor may recommend surgery. Although rare, this is normally done on a basis of necessity when no other remedies are working. What will happen is that your surgeon will detach the plantar fascia from the heel bone. Generally, doctors try not to go this route unless they have to, as it cause a weakening of the arch in your foot.
All in all, plantar fasciitis is not fun to deal with, but it’s normally pretty simple to treat once you have it. The easiest thing to do, however, is to take preventative measures and take care of your feet so that you don’t have to worry about it, to begin with. And as always, prior to starting any home remedies, please consult with your physician first.
Support and Braces
There are several other treatments that can help you to get rid of plantar Fasciitis. For example, night splints can be used in stretching the arch of your foot and your calf. A night splint is actually a type of brace which is used for holding your foot in a flexed position and helps in lengthening the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia overnight. With the use of a night splint, you can prevent morning stiffness and pain.
You can also prevent further damage to the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia with the use of arch supports special orthotics for your shoes. This may help in alleviating some of the pain by balancing pressure on your heels. Moreover, a boot cast can be used for immobilizing your foot and reducing strain as the plantar fascia heals. You can easily remove the boot cast for bathing.
Diagnosis of Plantar Fasciitis
- A physical exam may be performed by your doctor for checking the exact location of pain and tenderness in your foot. This examination is done to ensure that your foot is the result of damage in the plantar fascia and not caused by any other foot problem.
- Your physician may ask you to flex your foot and he/she will push on the plantar fascia to check whether the pain gets worse or not. Swelling and mild redness will also be considered by the doctor.
- Your doctor will further check your physical balance, your coordination, sense of sight and touch, and your reflexes for evaluating the health of your nerves and the strength of your muscles.
Potential Risks of Plantar Fasciitis
If you keep on ignoring this condition, this may develop chronic heel pain and will change the way you used to walk, causing injury to the back, hips, knees, and legs