Plantar Fasciitis: Identify, Treat, Prevent!

Some people are “early birds” who wake up in the morning, hop out of bed, and are ready to attack the new day. Others are “night owls” who tend to be a bit grumpier and maybe hit the snooze button several times before they are able to finally get out of bed in the morning. Now, it doesn’t matter which camp you find yourself in when it comes to morning habits—you will simply not be in a good mood when you start the day with sharp, intense pain in the heel with your first steps. Plantar fasciitis is no one’s ideal wake-up call!

Plantar Fasciitis Basics

This condition is the most common cause of heel pain for adults, and the culprit behind it is the plantar fascia. This connective tissue is a fibrous band that runs along the bottom of the foot lengthwise and connects the heel bone to the front of the foot. The tissue performs several functions, including supporting the foot arch, assisting with biomechanical processes, and absorbing some of the force that comes with taking a step.

The identifying symptom of plantar fasciitis is the severe stabbing pain experienced in the bottom of the heel with the first steps after long periods of rest. This is especially the case for the initial steps after a night’s sleep. The pain generally subsides in time, but will return again following additional periods of either sitting or standing in one place.

This common cause of heel pain is an overuse injury. It is caused by excessive stress on the tissue, which causes tiny tears in the fascia. Repeated stretching and tearing of the tissue causes inflammation, irritation, and pain.

Treating Plantar Fasciitis

The good news with this painful condition is that conservative care is usually quite successful for treating it. Over-the-counter pain relievers—like naproxen and ibuprofen—can be taken to ease the inflammation and pain associated with the condition. Consult with our office for specific dosage recommendations, though. Additionally, stretching routines and strengthening exercises can provide further relief from symptoms. In some cases, we may prescribe either off-the-shelf shoe inserts or custom orthotics to redistribute pressure on the feet more equitably.

In rare cases, we may recommend using a surgical procedure to detach the plantar fascia from the heel bone when conservative care does not provide the results we hope to see. In these cases, the foot arch tends to become weakened following the surgery, so we only recommend it when the pain is severe and other treatment options have failed.

Preventing the Heel Pain

For preventing plantar fasciitis, one of the best practices is to stretch on a regular basis to keep the tissue limber. The following stretches may be effective:

  • Stand with your hands against a wall and bring one leg straight behind you. Make sure the foot is planted flat on the ground and then slowly bend the front leg at the knee. Gradually move your hips forward until you can feel a gentle stretch in the calf of the back leg. Hold the stretch for about 20-30 seconds, and then switch legs and repeat.
  • Sitting on the edge of comfortable chair or your bed, lift up one of your legs and cross it over the other. Grab your foot and gently pull back on the toes until you feel the foot arch being stretched. Hold the position for about 15 seconds, then repeat with your other foot.
  • Lay a towel out on the floor in front of the edge of your bed or a chair, take off your socks and shoes, and place your heels at the edge of the towel. Keeping your heels on the ground, reach out with your feet and grab the towel with your toes. Pull the towel back (under your foot) until all of it has been pulled. Smooth the towel back out and then repeat two more times.

Effective Heel Pain Care in Avon and Frisco, CO

There is no need to suffer from the sharp heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis. Instead, contact Eagle-Summit Foot & Ankle. We are staffed with caring professionals who are dedicated to your health, so give us a call at (970) 949-0500 to connect with our Avon, Co office or (970) 668-4565 to connect with our Frisco office, or simply use our online form to schedule your appointment at either location today.

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