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If you’ve ever felt a stabbing or aching pain in your heel, you may be suffering from a condition known as plantar fasciitis. When your body is not given enough training to warm up for a long run or improper running shoes are worn, you put undue pressure on your plantar fascia, the tissue on the bottom of your feet that connects your toes to your heel. Over time, poor habits and overuse can tear this connective tissue, causing your heel to become inflamed and sensitive to pressure.
The most obvious warning sign that you might be suffering from plantar fasciitis is a dull ache. Depending on where the tear occurs, this feeling might be present in various places along the bottom of your foot, but can commonly be felt in the heel or arch.
People who sufferer from plantar fasciitis also have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, as the foot has spent the night attempting to heal itself by contracting. Sitting up and stepping out of your bed may cause sudden strain on the injury, resulting in a stabbing pain in the heel or arch of your foot. Although this pain may happen again after a long period of sitting down or resting and is commonly felt when beginning a run, it may disappear once you are active and your body is warmed up.
Although plantar fasciitis is generally caused by poor training regimens that push your body too far too quickly, it can also be caused by disregarding the importance of warming up before a run. Stretching your calf muscles and pointing or flexing your feet and toes are good methods for preventing your tissue from tearing. Too much sprinting or hill work may also increase your risk for developing plantar fasciitis, so it is a good idea to vary your exercise routines every now and then to avoid overexertion.
Certain people may also be especially prone to plantar fasciitis, including those who have flat feet or people with unnatural side-to-side movement of the legs when they walk or run, also known as overpronation and supination. Improper or overused running shoes and running on solid surfaces such as concrete may also increase your risk of developing plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis may only be a minimal problem at first, but symptoms may worsen and it may be more difficult to treat over time as the tears continue to get bigger and multiply in number. Normally, most injuries and muscles tend to heal relatively quickly, but because the plantar fascia does not have a blood supply, recovery is slow-going.
As with any condition, your first goal is to reduce swelling. This can be achieved through the use of cold water or ice, or gently massaging the foot with a chilled rolling pin or water bottle. During the recovery period, it’s important to wear shoes that give your foot’s arch some added support. Walking without shoes or in high-heels should be avoided, as this places unneeded stress on the tear and may reignite pain.
If plantar fasciitis is a recurring problem or lasts for more than a month, it might be time to see a doctor for diagnosis and assistance in its treatment. Some of the options may include, but are not limited to, physical therapy, injections such as cortisone or platelet-rich-plasma, and splints.
In more serious cases, surgery on the fascia may be necessary. This is always a last resort, however, and is generally only needed if the problem is recurring or has been left untreated for an extended period of time.
To avoid developing plantar fasciitis, here are a variety of lifestyle changes you can make:
- Warmup and stretch before running.
- Wear shoes that fit and are not worn-out, or use inserts.
- Vary your speed, gait, and stride when walking or running.
- Run on soft surfaces such as dirt, grass, or on a track.
- Don’t push yourself to run long distances without working up to them.
Are You Suffering From Plantar Fasciitis?
If you believe you may have a tear in your plantar fascia, call CORE Medical & Wellness to schedule an appointment: (888) 521-0688 or request a call at a time that is convenient for you.
Although plantar fasciitis may only seem like a small inconvenience, if left untreated it can develop into a more painful or permanent condition. Learn more about treatment options here: https://coremedicalwellness.com/services/non-surgical-orthopedics-spine-and-sports/
Dr. Richard Kang is double board certified in anesthesiology and pain medicine, and he completed an interventional pain medicine fellowship at the prestigious New York Presbyterian Hospital / Columbia University – College of Physicians and Surgeons. Read his full bio here.