Thursday, December 28, 2017

Signs you might have plantar fasciitis

It can be different from patient to patient, but plantar fasciitis tends to start with a noticeable irritation in your heel. This irritation becomes pain that hurts when you stand or walk.

If you’ve experienced plantar fasciitis, you know how incapacitating it can be. Every morning or anytime that you get up after resting, pain shoots through your heel and arch. The stiffness and pain may lessen after a few steps, but your foot will typically hurt more (and its tenderness will increase) as the day goes on.

couple walking in a park

Risk factors

Plantar fasciitis is an injury often related to running, but it isn’t limited to runners. It can be caused by many things. The more risk factors you match up with, the greater the chance of your foot pain being plantar fasciitis:
  • Poor footwear: Plantar fasciitis begins and ends with arch support. If you wear flip-flops, dress shoes or any shoes without arch support, your choice of footwear may play a major factor in causing your foot pain.
  • Foot structure: Some people are born with bone structures in their feet that make them more susceptible to developing plantar fasciitis. A high arch, fallen arch, or flat feet add pressure to your midfoot.
  • Occupation: Soldiers; traffic cops; teachers; retail, construction, and factory workers; coaches; and others who stand for long hours often experience stress in their feet that can cause heel pain.
  • Age: Those over the age of 40 are more likely to develop plantar fasciitis.
  • Obesity: If you carry extra weight, this puts an extra burden on your feet, specifically the plantar fascia.
  • Change in activity: Suddenly and drastically altering your exercise level can damage your midfoot and create a foundation for early onset plantar fasciitis.
  • Some types of exercise: Running, dancing, and any activity that puts added pressure on your heel may contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis.
Regardless of the cause, plantar fasciitis makes it hard to function without experiencing debilitating pain.

If you have heel pain, identify if you are experiencing it when doing any of the following:
  • Taking your first steps in the morning?
  • Standing after sitting for an extended time?
  • Climbing stairs?
  • Reaching for something on a high shelf?
This condition will become more and more crippling, if not treated properly. The connective tissue that runs from your heel to your toes becomes agitated every time too much stress is applied to it. This added stress stimulates the formation of calcium deposits on the heel bone, resulting in heel pain.

Unless diagnosed and treated early, plantar fasciitis is very difficult to cure. The sooner you see a doctor and begin a pain management treatment plan, the better.

What you can do

While you are waiting for your appointment, there are several things you can do to control your plantar fasciitis pain.
  1. Rest: Take your heel pain as a sign from your body to slow down. Pain is the way our body tells us that it is under duress. Powering through pain only adds more stress to the plantar fascia.
  2. Ice: Ice your heel and midfoot. Ice reduces swelling and is a drug-free way to alleviate pain.
  3. Stretch: Stretch before and after activity. Additionally, there are two plantar fasciitis exercises you can perform at home that deal specifically with plantar fascia pain. You’ll feel a dull pain when performing these stretches; if the pain is sudden and sharp, stop.
    1. Plantar fascia stretch: Sit down. Place the afflicted foot across your knee, then pull your toes backwards until you feel the stretch in the arch of the foot. Hold, then relax.
    2. Heel raise stretch: Stand normally with your core tight and your back straight. Step up to a small elevation, such as a step or rolled up towel. Raise your heels as high as you can, then let your heels drop as low as you can. This stretches the Achilles tendon and strengthens your calf.
  4. Plantar orthotics: If you think that poor footwear was the cause of your plantar fasciitis symptoms, then the right shoes or better inserts may help. The goal of plantar orthotics is to support the arch of your foot. Orthopedic shoes or inserts are a simple, yet effective way to realign and support your foot. There are several over-the-counter plantar fasciitis shoe inserts you can try. Your podiatrist can even have custom inserts created for you, if necessary.

Don’t let plantar fasciitis sideline you

When you are ready, Dr. Alex Lebrija is available to answer any questions you might have about foot pain. Make an appointment with Dr. Lebrija to discuss a plantar fasciitis pain management treatment plan.

Learn more about our podiatry care

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