Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain today. Runners and those who work on their feet are most often affected, but it can cause heel pain in a wide range of people for a number of reasons. If you are feeling the pain of plantar fasciitis, you should consult with a doctor. They are likely to prescribe stretching, over-the-counter medicines, or insoles designed for plantar fasciitis sufferers. Here’s what you need to know if you suspect you have plantar fasciitis.
WHAT IS PLANTAR FASCIITIS?
Plantar fasciitis is when the thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot and connects your heel bone to your toes gets inflamed. This band, called the plantar fascia, acts like a shock-absorber, supporting the arch in your foot. But if the tension and stress become too great, it can cause small tears in the fascia. Although the cause in many cases is unclear, repetitive stretching and tearing can cause the fascia to become irritated or inflamed.
People with plantar fasciitis often describe it as a stabbing pain felt during the first steps of the morning as they are getting out of bed. The pain then typically decreases, only to return later in the day, especially after standing for long periods of time or walking after sitting for a long time.
TREATMENT AND PAIN MANAGEMENT
There are a number of ways to treat plantar fasciitis pain, from adding a plantar fasciitis insole to your shoe to surgery. Here are some of the most common, non-invasive treatments.
STRETCHING AND STRENGTHENING
Exercises that stretch the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon and strengthen lower leg muscles will help stabilize the ankle and heel.
Physical therapists also use athletic tape to support the bottom of the foot.
Your doctor or physical therapist may recommend a night splint that flexes the foot and stretches the calf and arches while you sleep, holding the plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendon in a lengthened position overnight.
PLANTAR FASCIITIS INSOLES
Orthotic insoles are specially designed to alleviate pain and tension away from the plantar fasciitis tendon with for fitting arch support that distributes pressure more evenly over the footbed throughout the day, providing added comfort.
OVER-THE-COUNTER PAIN RELIEF
Ibuprofen and naproxen sodium can ease the pain and inflammation associated with plantar fasciitis.
To reduce inflammation, especially after a long day at work or intense exercise, icing the heel of the foot can help manage pain.
Wearing shoes with a supportive heel and that stabilizes the foot is important if you want to manage your foot pain from plantar fasciitis. Footwear like flip flops and high heels are only going to aggravate the problem. According to Dr. Kenneth Jung, an orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, California and featured in Prevention Magazine, adding a shoe insert or insole for plantar fasciitis can enhance the effectiveness of the shoes you already own.
Jung says that adding a shoe insert will externally support the arch, thus reducing the stress or load on the arch. Plantar fasciitis insoles also provide a cushy cup for your heel to relieve pressure, and together help make your foot more comfortable.
AT RISK FOR PLANTAR FASCIITIS
People can develop plantar fasciitis without an obvious cause, however, there are factors that increase your risk.
WORKING ON YOUR FEET
Nurses, factory workers, teachers and others who spend most of the work day walking and standing on hard surfaces can damage their plantar fascia.
The shape of your foot and how your foot makes contact with the ground can put added stress on the plantar fascia and cause irritation. This can include having flat feet, high arches, and overpronation of the foot.
People between 40-60 are most likely to be affected by plantar fasciitis.
Any activity that places a lot of stress on the heel can be a contributing factor to plantar fasciitis, including long-distance running, crossfit, and even ballet.
Adding extra pounds can put stress on your plantar fascia.
Anyone who struggles with the pain of plantar fasciitis, whether it's first thing in the morning or after a long day at work, is looking for simple, affordable relief. If you are experiencing foot pain, your first move should be to see a doctor. You will find there are many treatments for plantar fasciitis that do not require a prescription.