If you have pain in your heel, it is possible that you have a common condition called plantar fasciitis. It affects about two million people in this country and tends to hit most between the ages of 45 and 64. It is the most likely cause of heel pain. Here’s what you need to know about plantar fasciitis.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
It’s a condition that affects a thick band of tissue that runs from your heel to your toes called the plantar fascia. Its job is to support the arch of your foot as it bares your weight.
The plantar fascia elongates as your foot hits the ground to act almost like a spring. The constant tension and stretch of the foot can create small tears and inflammation in the tissue, typically by the heel.
Are There Risk Factors for Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a mechanical problem, so exercises that put stress on the foot can lead to early onset pain. In other words, if you are a runner, dancer or basketball player, your risk is high for this condition.
Other risk factors include:
- Long hours standing on hard surfaces
For some people, the pain is chronic, and for others, it might happen just once or twice during their lifetime.
What are the Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
The main symptom is heel pain. You’ll notice the pain first thing in the morning or anytime your feet are elevated. The pain will last for a few steps but, eventually, disappear. That happens because you stretch the plantar fascia with each step, loosening it up. The pain will not bother you during exercise, either, but you’ll feel it afterward.
Is there a Home Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis?
You should treat this problem like you would any connective tissue injury such as a sprained ankle:
- Over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium
Some sufferers require physical therapy to strengthen the plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, and lower leg muscle to stabilize the heel and foot.
Night splints can stretch the calf and foot arch as you sleep to enhance the muscles that support the plantar fascia. For those with flat feet, all you might need is arch supports in your shoes.
When to See the Doctor?
Untreated plantar fasciitis can cause problems, so if the home therapies don’t work, see the doctor. Patients can benefit from medical treatments like:
Steroid Injections – Injections can provide short-term relief
Platelet-rich plasma therapy – Platelet-rich plasma therapy uses the patient’s own blood to stimulate healing of the tissue
Extracorporeal shock wave therapy – Extracorporeal shock wave therapy uses sound waves to encourage healing
Tenex procedure – The Tenex procedure is a minimally invasive procedure that removes scar tissue for the plantar fasciitis
Surgery – For severe cases, a surgeon can disconnect the plantar fasciitis from the heel.
Surgery doesn’t come without some side effects, though, like the weakening of the foot arch. It is only used when other treatment fails.
Is Plantar Fasciitis Serious?
For most people, this problem is not serious, but it is painful. Left unchecked, though, it can lead to complications like heel, hip or lower back pain. In severe cases, the plantar fascia can rupture.
If you have a heel, back, hip or foot pain, contact BackFit and make an appointment to see if you have plantar fasciitis.