Heel pain is not something that you should ignore. It can often be your body’s way of signaling that there is something deeper that needs your attention. Plantar fasciitis is one of those things. It is a common cause of heel pain.
If you’ve noticed stabbing pain in your foot or heel area, it could be plantar fasciitis. The pain usually happens after you’ve been resting for a while. It can also start to go away after you’ve moved around a little but usually returns.
What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?
The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is a stabbing pain in your foot. It will usually be around the heel. You’ll notice the pain when you first wake up and start moving. However, it often goes away or decreases after you’ve moved around a little. But it can return if you’ve spent a long time standing or if you get up after sitting.
In some cases, you can get complications with plantar fasciitis. If it goes undiagnosed for too long, it can impact how you move and your daily activities. In other words, it can start to hinder your enjoyment of life. Some patients may even adjust the way they walk to avoid the pain. However, this can lead to knee, hip, back pain or even pain in other areas of the feet.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the tissue on the bottom of your foot. This tissue runs from your heel to your toes. Common risk factors of plantar fasciitis are age, types of exercises, foot mechanics, body weight and occupation.
How is plantar fasciitis diagnosed?
Medical professionals will diagnose plantar fasciitis in several ways, such as:
- History – you should discuss your medical history and any previous problems you’ve had.
- Physical – a physical examination of your foot can also give medical professionals a good idea of what is happening to cause your foot pain.
- Imaging – while you don’t need any imaging or other tests to diagnose plantar fasciitis, your health care provider may decide to do them to rule out any other issues that could be causing you pain.
What causes plantar fasciitis?
There is a band of tissue that runs from your heel to the base of your toes. It’s called the plantar fascia. This tissue supports the arch of your foot as you walk or move and it plays a big part in absorbing shock as the foot is loaded. However, excessive tension on the plantar fascia may cause it to tear. Once this happens, the area can become inflamed and painful with further activity as it stretches and tears more.
Who’s most at risk?
While anyone who is active can get plantar fasciitis, some factors can make it more likely you’ll be diagnosed with it. These include:
Age – most patients are between 40 and 60 years old.
Types of exercise – Exercise that put excessive stress on the foot and plantar fascia, like running, ballet dancing, etc., can put you at higher risk.
Foot conditions – different foot conditions can put extra pressure on the plantar fascia and cause tearing, such as flat feet or a high arch. It may also be caused by the way you walk, especially if the weight on your feet is unevenly distributed.
High body weight – being overweight can put extra stress on your feet and tear the plantar fascia.
Work requirements – jobs that require you to be standing for long periods of time, such as fast food, factory workers, teachers, etc., are at higher risk of developing plantar fasciitis.
How is plantar fasciitis treated?
Most patients with plantar fasciitis recover with basic treatment, such as modifying behaviours, stretching, exercises and ice. There are other treatments to help relieve the pain and reduce the inflammation, including:
Your health care professional may recommend pain relievers like Advil, Ibuprofen, Aleve, or others that can reduce inflammation and help you find relief from the pain.
You may also benefit from being guided and taught exercises that can help you stretch your plantar fascia correctly. With the proper physical therapy treatment, you’ll be able to strengthen your feet, ankles and lower limbs.
Another way to relieve the pain of plantar fasciitis is to wear splints overnight. This can keep your plantar fascia and Achilles tendon in a stretched position all night. The initial stabbing pain felt in the morning may be caused by the stretch of the plantar fascia caused by standing up after having the foot in a rested position for several hours. We typically sleep with our foot in a position that shortens the fascia and the splint will prevent this.
Foot orthotics can help your body weight be distributed more evenly as you move and walk. It’s best to see a specialist, like a Canadian Certified Pedorthist, who can assess you and provide you with a treatment plan that fits your unique foot shape, mechanics and lifestyle.
Walking boot or crutches
Depending on how severe your condition is or how bad the pain feels, your medical provider may suggest wearing a walking boot or using crutches until the plantar fasciitis heals. It can promote healing by preventing you from moving your foot and avoiding putting too much weight on your feet.
More severe cases of plantar fasciitis may require steroid shots. This can offer some relief from the pain. However, it’s best not to do too many injections as it can cause your plantar fascia to rupture and lead to more pain and severe condition.
Shock wave therapy
Those with chronic plantar fasciitis may benefit from shock wave therapy. This treatment involves directing sound waves at the heel. It’s important to note that this therapy is not always effective.
Ultrasonic tissue repair
Another option is to use ultrasound imaging to help repair the damaged tissue. Once the plantar fascia tissue is located with the ultrasound, it is broken up with a probe and suctioned out.
Other treatment modalities that could be discussed with your physician include injections, shockwave, ultrasound and surgery.
You don’t need to suffer from foot pain. Contact CWG today and find out about our range of foot care services.