Plantar Fasciitis: Heel Pain
There are many causes of heel pain, but unquestionably the most common is Plantar Fasciitis. The Plantar Fascia is the thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot. Plantar Fasciitis occurs when this tissue is torn or inflamed. This tear or inflammation normally includes swelling, pain and/or difficulty walking.
Patients that suffer from Plantar Fasciitis often describe the condition feeling like a nail being hammered into the heel bone. Most sufferers note that Plantar Fasciitis is most painful in the morning. The reason being that during the 7-8 hours spent sleeping, the body starts to repair the tear by laying down connective tissue between the fascia and the heel bone. But, when we stand up in the morning our body weight goes through the heel and the fasciitis gets stretched; ultimately re-tearing everything that our body mended overnight.
There are seven steps that can be proactively taken to resolve Plantar Fasciitis:
1) Activity Modification:
Stop all weight bearing exercise. Give your foot a chance to heal. Exercising on torn tissue only worsens the condition.
2) Supportive Shoes:
You guessed it. Orthopedic and therapeutic shoes
are extremely necessary. They should be worn from the minute you rise to the time you go to sleep. These shoes should have a relatively rigid sole, a firm heel counter and some form of adjustability like shoe laces.
3) Arch Support:
Arch support inserts help prevent the foot arch from collapsing. This ultimately allows the plantar fascia to rest.
4) Calf & Achilles Stretch:
Stretching the calf muscle reduces tension within the plantar fascia. Stand by a wall with one foot in front of the other and slightly bend the front knee. Keep your back knee straight while you push your front heel on the ground and lean toward the wall. Hold for 20 seconds; repeat throughout the day.
5) Night Splint:
As the name implies, this splint is to be used at night while sleeping. The splint holds your foot 90° to the leg. When you first stand up in the morning, the newly healed fascia will not re-tear and morning pain will diminish.
Freeze a water bottle and roll your foot on back-and-forth. If this is not accessible, ice packs will work just fine. Be sure to ice on-and-off for 20 minutes throughout the day.
Take Motrin or Advil as needed. Or, talk to your podiatrist about a cortisone injection.
Heel pain (or any foot pain for that matter) is never enjoyable. These preventative measures can be easily implemented into your daily routine to help reduce the pain and heal the torn tissue. Take action now for a lifetime of healthy feet!
Dr. Jeffrey S. Hurless
DPM, FACFAS Board Certified Foot & Ankle Surgeon/Podiatrist
Medical Director, HealthyFeetStore.com