Suffer from heel pain? It could be plantar fasciitis.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
“There is a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot called the plantar fascia,” says Colby Holmes, DPM, St. Claire HealthCare podiatrist. “It connects your toes to your heel bone. Repetitive strain and stress on the plantar fascia can create small tears which produces stabbing pains.”
Your risk of developing plantar fasciitis is higher if you:
- Are a runner or do activities that involve running, jumping, or dancing.
- Are constantly on your feet at work.
- Are overweight or obese.
- Wear poorly fitting shoes or shoes without adequate support.
- Have pre-existing foot issues like flat feet, high arches, or a tight Achilles tendon.
So how do you know if you have it? Dr. Holmes says there are a few tell-tale signs that you’re dealing with plantar fasciitis. “The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is a stabbing pain in the heel of your foot. It usually feels most painful when you take your first few steps after you wake up. It can also flare up after long periods of standing or sitting. If you work out, you may notice that the pain is worse after exercise rather than during.”
Don’t Ignore the Pain
“Ignoring the pain can make it worse, causing chronic heel pain which can keep you from doing daily activities,” says Dr. Holmes. “It could also cause you to shift your weight when walking or standing to avoid pain. This can result in knee, hip, or back problems.”
See your provider immediately if you have:
- Severe pain and swelling near the heel.
- Incapability to flex your foot downward, rise on your toes or walk normally.
- Heel pain with fever, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the foot.
- Severe heel pain immediately after an injury.
Schedule an appointment if you have:
- Heel pain even when you’re not walking or standing.
- Heel pain lasting longer than a few weeks, even after you’ve tried rest, ice, and other home treatments.
Treating Non-Severe/Mild Plantar Fasciitis
There are many options on how to heal your plantar fascia, but it can take time. Dr. Holmes can help find the best treatment option for you.
Heel pain that isn’t severe can sometimes be treated at home. Home care treatments for plantar fasciitis include:
- Resting the foot. This involves limiting movements that make your foot hurt. You may also need to avoid certain sports and types of work for a time.
- Using cold packs. Put an ice pack on the heel and foot to help reduce pain and swelling.
- Taking pain medicines. Over-the-counter pain medicines like aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) can help relieve pain and swelling.
- Using heel cups or foot inserts (orthotics). These are placed in the shoes to help support the heel or arch and cushion the heel. Dr. Holmes recommends that you buy orthotics or proper-fitting shoes for your specific foot type and condition. Remember, not all shoes and orthotics are created equal. “I refer my patients to St. Claire Family Medical Supply in the Kroger shopping center as they have certified shoe fitters,” says Dr. Holmes.