Does the mere thought of setting your feet on the ground each morning when you wake up fill you with dread? If so, you’re not alone—more than 3 million Americans each year will develop plantar fasciitis, the most common cause of heel pain in adults. This painful condition usually strikes the bottom of the foot near the heel and can make it very difficult to enjoy daily activities. However, it is usually treatable with conservative measures.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
The sole of your foot, and your entire arch, is supported by a thick band of tissue called the plantar fascia. The fascia stretches all the way from your heel bone and your toes, and when it’s working properly, provides cushioning and shock absorption for your foot.
Wear and tear from standing, walking, running, or just plain living life puts tension and stress on the plantar fascia, and in time that can lead to irritation, inflammation, and tearing in the tissue, especially in the area right in front of the heel bone. Stabbing pain when you get up from bed or a long sit is the most common symptom. Pain may also increase in the period after exercise (though usually not during it).
Certain exercises or activities (such as running, jumping, dancing, or just working on your feet all day), age (plantar fasciitis is most common after turning 40), and even foot shape and structure can increase your risk.
How to Treat Plantar Fasciitis
In many cases, you can treat plantar fasciitis successfully on your own, at home. Your odds of success are highest if you begin countermeasures early, before the pain has a chance to become severe or chronic.
To help manage initial swelling and pain:
- Rest when you can and avoid putting excessive weight or stress on your feet.
- Use ice packs and over-the-counter pain relievers when necessary.
- Elevate your feet when sitting or lying down
We also recommend stretches and exercises to stretch out and strengthen the plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, and calves. Some good options include picking up small objects with your toes or rolling a frozen water bottle under your feet, though there are many more.
Conservative Options from Your Foot Doctor
Plantar fasciitis pain that does not improve with self-management strategies should be examined by the Fixing Feet Institute team. We provide several advanced treatment measures that can be extremely effective alternatives to surgery, including:
- Custom orthotics. We take precise measurements of your feet so that a custom orthotic device can be constructed to fit you perfectly. The orthotic slips into your shoes and accommodates any structural imbalances in your feet, diverting pressure away from the heel.
- Therapeutic laser. This technology uses beams of light to energize natural cellular processes, providing pain relief, accelerated tissue healing, and inflammation reduction.
- Extracorporeal pulse activation treatment (EPAT). A small, handheld device directs pulses of energy directly into the painful heel. As with laser, it increases blood flow and cellular activity to bring about increased healing and pain relief.
We’ll also, of course, review your self-care strategies to determine areas of possible improvement, such as incorporating additional stretches into your routine. We’ll also take a look at your shoes—sometimes, something as simple as a new pair that fits you better can lead to a massive improvement in your symptoms!
What About Surgery?
Surgery for plantar fasciitis is rare. Most cases respond to home care alone, and for the few that don’t, our advanced alternatives to surgery usually prove effective.
However, a small number of cases may fail to resolve with conservative care. If you’ve attempted these methods for several months with no success, we may consider a surgical approach to repair, release, or lengthen the plantar fascia.
Plantar Fasciitis Prevention
If heel pain is a recurring struggle, you may find it helpful to be mindful of the causes and develop a prevention strategy. Some key tips include:
- Always make sure the shoes you wear fit properly and are appropriate for your activity.
- Schedule your athletic activities so that you don’t do too much high-impact exercise in a short time frame. Instead of running every day, try swimming or cycling a few days instead.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. Less weight equals less pressure on your heels.
- Remember to stretch every day, warm up before exercise, and cool down afterward.
- Listen to your body! If it hurts, stop and try something else—heel pain is not a normal part of life and you should never have to “push through it.”
Seeking Medical Attention
If you’re struggling with plantar fasciitis, please make an appointment with the team at Fixing Feet Institute in Surprise, AZ today. Call our office at (623) 584-5556, or complete our contact form online.