Plantar fasciitis is a condition that can result in pain ranging from mild to excruciating. This pain is typically focused in the heel, but it can extend through the arch of the foot as well. It is typically worst after sleeping, sitting for a long period, or otherwise being off of one’s feet for a prolonged amount of time. In some cases, the pain itself is joined by the aggravating feeling you get when you have a rock in your shoe – only with plantar fasciitis, it feels like the “rock” is actually inside your foot. This makes it even harder to walk around enough to relieve the pain.
Fortunately, there are several ways to eliminate the heel pain. Here are three methods that bring success. Which one is best will depend on the amount of pain and inflammation you are suffering as well as any co-occurring conditions, such as heel spurs, you may have.
1. Special stretches. The pain of plantar fasciitis is caused by tension and inflammation not only in the plantar fascia ligament, which starts at the heel and runs along the bottom of the foot, but nearby structures such as the Achilles’ tendon.The reason it hurts so much when you first get up from bed or a chair is because these sinews are able to tighten up more when your weight is off of your feet.
Carefully stretching these sinews reduces the tension over time, and in turn, the inflammation is reduced. In many cases, this – plus a few weeks – is all you need to eliminate the pain of plantar fasciitis. Then you just need to maintain the proper flexibility by doing the stretching exercises every so often after that.
To learn how to perform these exercises, talk to a podiatrist. The doctor should know all about these physical therapy stretches and how to do them.
2. Orthotics and similar foot appliances. If a case of planar fasciitis has gotten too bad, it may hurt too much to intentionally stretch out the sinews of the foot and ankle. This is where orthotics and other appliances come in. They fit in your shoes and adjust how your weight lands on your foot. By relieving stresses to the already-inflamed areas and providing support in specific places, they can bring about relief that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.
3. Surgery. If plantar fasciitis has been a problem long enough, it can cause the end of the heel bone to grow abnormally. This growth is called a heel spur. Since bone cannot be removed by things like stretching, it has to be cut away to restore the proper shape of the heel bone. Modern heel spur surgery is often done with lasers, which leave the heel bone with a more natural shape and lessen the healing time.
In all cases, your podiatrist will give your foot and ankle a thorough examination before recommending a course of action. This gives the doctor a chance to confirm the diagnosis, spot any co-occurring problems, and determine the extent and severity of the issues that are found. Then, the options will be presented along with enough information to allow you to choose how to proceed. You may be told that using two or more therapies at once, such as stretches and orthotics, will be more effective than just one. Such combinations allow the problem to be tackled from multiple directions and often bring about faster results.
To make an appointment to have your feet examined with the goal of eliminating pain, just contact us. We’re happy to help you regain your ability to enjoy walking and staying active.