One of the most prevalent causes of heel pain, plantar fasciitis, is a condition characterized by pain and inflammation of a thick band of tissue known as the plantar fascia. Plantar fascia runs across the bottom of the foot and is the tissue linking the heel to the toes.
Plantar fasciitis typically comes with a sharp pain that is most intense in the morning, especially when you step out of the bed. However, as the foot limbers up, the pain gradually decreases but may reoccur if you stand for long hours or after you get up from a seated position.
While anybody can suffer from plantar fasciitis, runners are most susceptible. Obese individuals, as well as those who wear shoes that don’t offer adequate support, are also at risk. As a matter fact, health experts recommend that you wear shoes for plantar fasciitis if your line of work involves long standing hours or are a professional athlete.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis:
The symptoms of plantar fasciitis may vary from one individual to the other depending on the severity. Nonetheless, the most common symptoms include:
- Pain at the bottom of the of the foot specifically near the heel
- Painful steps when you first get out of the bed in the morning or after long hours of rest. You may also experience pain after a long car drive. The pain reduces after walking for a few minutes.
- Greater pain after activity or exercise
The plantar fascia works by absorbing high levels of stress and strains subjected to the foot. However, when the pressure is too much, the tissue becomes weak and starts to tear. Under normal circumstances, the body will react to the injury by inflammation, thereby causing the pain and stiffness associated with plantar fasciitis. Severe tearing and stretching of the plantar fasciitis can lessen your ability to walk.
You are more vulnerable to plantar fasciitis if you are exposed to certain risk factors. Some of the factors that make you more prone to the condition include:
- Faulty Foot Mechanics: You are more likely to suffer from plantar fasciitis if you have a flat foot, a high arch or an abnormal pattern of walking. All these factors may combine to affect significantly the manner in which the weight is distributed when in a standing position in addition to subjecting more weight on the plantar fascia.
- Age: Statistics indicates that people between the ages of 40 and 60 are more prone to plantar fasciitis
- Particular types of Exercise: If you perform exercises that subject tremendous stress on the heel and attached tissues such as dance aerobics and ballet dancing as well as long distance running, the chances are that you might suffer from plantar fasciitis.
- Working Conditions that Involve Long Hours of Standing: People who work in factories and teachers as well as any other person who spends most of their working hours walking or standing on hard surfaces have a higher risk of suffering from plantar fasciitis.
- Being Overweight: Obesity places extra weight to your plantar fascia leaving you vulnerable.
Urgent treatment has to be sought at the first sign of plantar fasciitis. Failure to treat the condition at early stages may lead to severe complications that may interfere with your ability to carry out day to day activities. Changing the way you walk is not enough to reduce the intensity of plantar fasciitis. In fact, it may aggravate the condition and lead to knee, hip as well as back problems.
One of the most immediate measures you can take is to start wearing shoes for plantar fasciitis to reduce the pain and promote healing. In essence, such shoes provide the cushioning that your foot needs to lessen the impact with the ground.
Test and Diagnosis:
During your appointment with the doctor, he or she will conduct a physical test to determine the level of tenderness in your foot. This way the doctor establishes the cause the plantar fasciitis and recommends the most appropriate treatment. Other tests include:
- Imaging Tests: While these are not necessary, they can be conducted for severe cases. The doctor carries out a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or an X-ray to determine if the pain is caused by any other condition apart from plantar fasciitis such as a pinched nerve or a stress fracture.
- X-Ray: At times an X-ray shows a spur bone that is projecting forward from the heel bone. Bone spurs are associated with heel pain and can be removed through surgical procedures. Note that bone spurs do not necessarily cause plantar fasciitis.
Treatment and Drugs:
After you have been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, the doctor may recommend either of the following procedures.
- Medications: Painkillers are prescribed to help reduce the pain and inflammation. The most common drugs include ibuprofen and naproxen.
- Therapies: These involve stretching and strengthening exercises as well as the use of specialized devices to relieve pain including.
- Physical Therapy: A physical therapist instructs you to conduct a series of plantar fasciitis exercise to help alleviate the pain and stabilize the ankle and the heel.
- Night Splints: The doctor may suggest that you wear a night splint to stretch the arch of the foot while you’re sleeping to help stretch the Achilles’ tendon.
- Orthotics: The doctor may recommend the use of off-the-shelf heel cups or customized arch support to help spread the pressure on your foot evenly.
Surgery and Other Procedures:
When the treatments mentioned above don’t work as expected, the doctor may recommend one of the following:
- Steroid Shots: This involves injecting steroids into the affected area to ease the pain temporarily.
- Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy: This procedure entails directing sound waves at the area of the plantar fascia to promote healing.
- Surgery: Although it is not widely recommended, surgery may be necessary to disconnect the plantar fascia from the heel bone. Surgery is done for acute cases of plantar fasciitis.
Lifestyle and Home Remedies:
You can reduce the plantar fasciitis pain at home by:
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- Changing the type of sport you take part in
- Maintaining a healthy weight to lessen the stress on the plantar fasciitis
- Choosing shoes with enough support for the heel and the arch such as the Salomon Men’s Speedcross 3 Trail Running Shoe
- Stretching the arches
- Applying ice to reduce the pain
- Wearing shoes that are not worn out
Treating plantar fasciitis starts with understanding the condition. That way you are in a position to know not only the treatment method to use but also the shoes to wear to help ease the pain.