Do you get that pain in the heel of your foot after a long road trip and dismissing the thought of it since it gets better after walking for a short while? Do you also get the same feeling after waking up in the morning? You may have strained the ligament that supports the arch of your foot causing this particular heel pain. Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the ligament connecting your heel bone to your toes, causing pain on the bottom of the heel.
The plantar fascia is a long, thin, tough fibrous band of tissue that lies directly beneath the skin at the bottom of your foot, connecting the heel to the base of your toes. It supports the arch and is designed to absorb the high stresses and strains placed on the foot.
Too much pressure and strain may damage or tear your plantar fascia, causing heel pain and stiffness. Here are some factors that make you prone to the condition:
Female, more than male
Long periods of standing, walking, or running (in your work or with exercise)
Flat feet or high arches
Non-supportive, ill-fitting footwear
Pain on the bottom of the foot near the heel, or in the arch of the foot
Pain with the first few steps after getting out of bed in the morning, or getting up from a seated position, such as after a long car ride. The pain subsides after a few minutes of walking.
Greater pain, not during, but after exercise or activity
At your initial appointment, you will be asked to describe your symptoms, discuss your past and present illnesses or injuries, and your other concerns. Your doctor will watch you stand and walk, then examine your foot.
Some signs that your doctor will look for:
A high arch
Tenderness on the bottom of your foot, just in front of your heel bone
Pain that gets worse when you flex your foot
Pain that worsens with pressure on the plantar fascia
Pain that improves when you point your toes down
Limited “up” motion of your ankle
Tests and Diagnostics
X-rays – useful in ruling out other causes of heel pain, such as fractures or arthritis. Heel spurs can also be seen on an x-ray.
Ultrasound and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – not routine radiologic exams to diagnose plantar fasciitis, and are only useful in cases wherein the heel pain is not getting better with conservative treatment
Patients with plantar fasciitis mostly improve with these conservative treatments:
Rest – Refrain from the activities that contribute to the pain, and stop exercise such as running or walking especially on hard surfaces.
Ice – Cold or ice compress for 20 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day is effective in reducing the pain
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication – Drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen may be prescribed by your doctor to reduce pain and inflammation.
Exercise – Stretching your calves and plantar fascia is the most effective way to relieve the pain that comes with this condition. Your Physical Therapist can teach you more about these stretching exercises.
Well-fitted shoes – shoes with good arch support and a cushioned sole are important. There are heel cups or shoe inserts designed specifically to help treat plantar fasciitis. Use them in both shoes, even if only one foot hurts.
Night splint – keep the feet from pointing down, as it stretch the plantar fascia, reducing the morning pain.
Cortisone injections – Steroids can be injected into the plantar fascia to reduce inflammation and pain. However, your doctor may limit your injections -as multiple steroid injections can tear the plantar fascia resulting to a flat foot and chronic pain.
More than 90% of patients with plantar fasciitis get better within 10 months of having simple treatments. However, in some cases where the condition does not improve after a year, your doctor might suggest a surgical approach to treat your plantar fasciitis.
Surgeries such as Gastrocnemius Recession or Plantar Fascia Release may be done depending on the persistence of your symptoms; but this will only be recommended after aggressive nonsurgical measures are exhausted.
Conditions like plantar fasciitis should not be ignored. As you change your stance or your gait to reduce pain as you walk, the other parts of your body might compensate causing other foot, knee, hip, or back problems. Without treatment, it may result in chronic heel pain, keeping you from your regular activities.
As there may be other causes of this kind of pain, it is always important to reach get a professional diagnosis. Our Specialists in Dubai, at Orthosports Medical Center can distinguish this from other conditions. We can discuss your concerns and come up with an orthopedic plan for your needs. Click here to book an appointment with our Orthopedic Specialists.