Heel pain is one of the most common conditions we see, and the most common cause is plantar fasciitis. This condition can be considered an overuse injury as it stems from damage to your plantar fascia – the fibrous band of tissues that spans the arch of your foot, connecting your toes to your heel. Repetitive stress placed upon this band can cause tiny tears to form in the tissues and swelling to occur. This inflammation aggravates the heel where the plantar fascia is attached, and results in heel pain, especially first thing in the morning.
A Painful Wake Up Call
Because your plantar fascia contracts at rest, pain is most prominent when the injured tissues of your arch are suddenly forced to stretch again, namely after you’ve been sitting for a while or have just woken up from a night’s sleep. That’s why one of the tell-tale symptoms of plantar fasciitis is stabbing heel pain with the first steps of the day! Your tight plantar fascia pulls on your heel bone upon hopping out of bed — sometimes to the point of developing a protrusion called a heel spur — and while the pain will subside as you loosen up when you walk, that doesn’t mean it won’t be back! You can expect discomfort to return after long periods of rest, as well as when you climb stairs or stand for extended periods of time. Don’t ignore these signs!
Putting Pain to Rest
In most cases, plantar fasciitis can be treated with conservative measures including, rest, ice, and a switch to more supportive and cushioned footwear. Orthotic shoe inserts can provide additional support and redirect pressure away from your heel as well. Anti-inflammatory medication can help ease swelling and pain, and plantar fasciitis exercises and stretches can loosen tight tissues and reduce strain.
If these plantar fasciitis treatments are not enough to provide relief, you may consider a regenerative medical procedure like PRP injections or AmnioFix. These accelerate healing and encourage the repair and regeneration of damaged cells. Plantar fasciitis surgery is also an option for rare and severe cases. This typically entails the release of your plantar fascia from your heel bone, but is only performed if pain is extreme and all other options have been exhausted.
Prevent Plantar Fasciitis Pain in the First Place!
There are plenty of steps you can take to help prevent plantar fasciitis from causing you heel pain that gets in the way of your daily life and the activities you enjoy.
Avoid overuse and repetitive stress. You can do this by gradually building upon your fitness routine and breaking it up with low-impact options (in other words, cross-train). Yoga, swimming, and biking are all great choices. Also, maintain a healthy weight, and invest in shoes with arch support and ample cushion in the heel. Proper warmups and regular stretching can both be beneficial as well.
It’s important to note that, while plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, it is not the only one. It’s best to let us assess your feet so we can assure the correct diagnosis and treatment plan. You may also want to take advantage of our free book on managing heel pain – a great resource to keep handy!
For more information or to get help with heel pain from plantar fasciitis or any other source, call for an appointment at our Troy or Clifton Park, NY office by dialing (518) 273-0053.