Heel pain can be a very complex problem, with a wide variety of possible causes and diagnoses. However, the most common heel pain diagnosis we see, at least among adults, is a condition called plantar fasciitis.
If you are suffering from pain located on the bottom of the heel, particularly after getting out of bed or standing up after a lengthy rest, plantar fasciitis is the most likely culprit.
Fortunately, almost all cases of plantar fasciitis can be treated successfully without surgery. The sooner you make an appointment, the better your chances that the simplest, least-invasive treatment methods will be successful.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis refers to inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick ligament positioned along the underside of your foot extending from the heel bone to the base of the toes.
Under normal circumstances, the plantar fascia acts like a kind of bowstring or strut for your foot. It assists in stabilizing and maintaining the arch of the foot and stretches slightly when you bear weight. As you progress through a step, your toes flex and tighten the plantar fascia, allowing it to lock major sets of joints to create an energy-efficient foot to propel you forward.
Unfortunately, putting too much stress on the plantar fascia over time can lead to inflammation and the development of tiny tears within the fascia. This is most commonly felt on the bottom of the foot, where the fascia connects to the heel bone.
Why Is the Pain Worse in the Morning?
As mentioned above, the classic symptom of plantar fasciitis is heel pain that is worse when getting out of bed, or when standing after sitting for an extended period of time.
This is because the fascia tends to naturally tighten and contract while you sleep, or while you are inactive. When you resume standing, the fascia is forced to suddenly elongate, re-aggravating the inflammation in the tissue. In severe cases of plantar fasciitis, this pain may be described as a stabbing or even burning sensation.
Massaging your feet, stretching, or just doing heel raises while sitting on the edge of your bed for a few minutes before standing will warm up and loosen the fascia and significantly reduce that initial pain in the morning.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Usually here is no single cause of plantar fasciitis. Often, there are several contributing factors. At your appointment, we will help you determine the most likely culprits creating this problem. This will help us personalize an effective treatment plan and provide you with the most relevant information and guidance on how you can prevent future episodes of plantar fasciitis.
Some of the most common contributing factors include:
- Poor footwear
- Active hobbies or occupations
- Significant changes or increases in your physical activities
- Having especially tight calf muscles or Achilles tendons
- Having flat feet (or other structural abnormalities in your feet)
When Should I See a Doctor About My Plantar Fasciitis?
If any form of heel pain is interfering with daily activities, we recommend you make an appointment with us. It is better to take care of the problem sooner rather than later, before it becomes severe, chronic, and difficult to treat.
Many mild cases of plantar fasciitis can be treated exclusively with simple, conservative therapies you can perform at home. If your heel pain persists after trying these treatments for a least one month, more aggressive treatments will be recommended. Once again, seeking our care for plantar fasciitis sooner rather than later can significantly reduce your risk of needing more aggressive treatments.
Treatment Options For Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis patients can be treated with a variety of approaches, ranging from simple to advanced therapy. You may be able to do some of these treatments at home, while others will require professional attention.
Finding an effective solution may take longer if the symptoms have been present for an extended period of time. Chronic plantar fasciitis leads to plantar fasciosis (a thickening of the fascia) making it more difficult to treat.
Plantar fasciitis treatment options include:
The treatment method RICE is an abbreviation for rest, icing, compression, and elevation. Each of the four elements addresses the condition differently:
Rest: Resting is essential for healing plantar fasciitis. Avoid strenuous activities and sit down whenever possible.
Icing: Icing can help reduce inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament and numb pain signals. However, ice by itself is only effective for the initial 48 hours of symptoms, after which contrast baths are more effective (alternating between ice water and warm water baths.)
Compression: Compression helps with swelling and circulation. Use a compression sleeve or tape if needed.
Elevation: Elevating your feet above your heart helps with swelling and pain by promoting better circulation.
Physical therapists can show you stretching exercises that can be done at home multiple times a day to increase the flexibility of your lower leg muscles and reduce strain on the plantar fascia.
MLS Laser Therapy
Treatment using the MLS (Multi-Wave Locked System) laser can help manage chronic and acute pain. Pulsed and continuous wavelengths are delivered to the injured area to reduce pain and inflammation and promote healing.
You can improve plantar fasciitis with the help of custom orthotics, which support the arch and stabilize the foot to reduce strain on the plantar fascia. Orthotics are one of the most frequently recommended conservative treatments for plantar fasciitis.
Extreme Cases – Surgery
Plantar fasciitis is a condition in which the plantar fascia, a band of connective tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes, becomes swollen and irritated. Open or minimally invasive procedures are available to release the fascia surgically or treat with Topaz technology, under anesthesia.
Do Not Allow Plantar Fasciitis to Hold You Back Anymore!
If you’re interested in getting the best treatments for your plantar fasciitis, we are ready and waiting to hear from you. You should seek our care for plantar fasciitis as soon as possible to reduce your risk of needing more intense treatments.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Bobrowski at InStride Crystal Coast Podiatry in New Bern, call us today at (252) 638-4700. You may also request an appointment online, if you prefer.