Do you have a sharp pain on the bottom of your foot near your heel when you first step down in the morning? The number one cause of heel pain in the US is a condition called Plantar Fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a soft tissue structure in the bottom of all of our feet that connects from the the heel bone to the bottom of all five toes. The plantar fascia works like a bowstring to help stabilize the arch. As we walk, all of our arches fall naturally. This is called pronation and acts as a built in shock absorber for our feet. As the arch falls, it puts an increased stretch on the plantar fascia. Plantar Fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia tissue tears away from the heel bone. This is not typically a complete tear, but very small micro tears. This creates an inflammatory response and pain.
The treatment of Plantar Fasciitis is to heal the tear and get the soft tissue structure to grow back onto the heel bone. Here are the top seven things to try to help get rid of Plantar Fasciitis:
- Activity Modification - Running, dancing and any type of weight bearing exercises and working out should be modified or stopped. Rest your foot, put it up and sit as much as possible.
- Supportive Shoes - Some examples of supportive shoes can be found here at HealthyFeetStore.com. These shoes should be worn from the time you wake up until you go to bed.
- Arch Supports - These will help preserve or slow down arch collapse (pronation) which will reduce the work load on the fascia. Some great arch supports can be found at HealthyFeetStore.com.
- Night Splint - A splint that you wear at night while you sleep is called a night splint. It helps hold your foot at a 90 degree angle to your leg. This is the position you want the fascia to heal in. This will also help reduce that painful first step out of bed in the morning. You can purchase a night splint at HealthyFeetStore.com.
- Anti-inflammatory Medication - Typically over the counter medicines like Motrin or Advil (dosage as directed on the bottle) will help with inflammation.
- Ice - 3x per day helps reduce inflammation, you can even use a frozen water bottle and roll your foot back and forth on it.
- Calf Stretches - Lightly stretch your calf muscles, as it reduces tension through the fascia and Achilles.
Although this condition can last for awhile and unfortunately, come and go with time, it is common and does respond well to the suggestions above. For more severe cases, there are some things that your Podiatrist may try which include steroid injection, shock wave or laser therapies and even, surgery.
Dr. Jeffrey S. Hurless
DPM, FACFAS Board Certified Foot & Ankle Surgeon/Podiatrist
Medical Director, HealthyFeetStore.com