If you’re suffering from terrible pain as soon as you take your first steps after waking up, or after a period of not moving for a while, or if you’re having difficulty raising your toes off the floor… then there’s a good chance you might be dealing with plantar fasciitis.
However, given the numerous existing (and potential) causes, it is imperative to have your heel pain properly diagnosed.
This being said, a foot and ankle surgeon is able to distinguish between all the possibilities and determine the underlying source of your heel pain, so if you have the time (or possibility), I suggest you visit your doctor as soon as possible.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the band of tissue (the plantar fascia) that extends from the heel to the toes. In this condition, the fascia first becomes irritated and then inflamed, resulting in shooting pain.
The most common cause relates to the biomechanics of the foot being out of line. For example, people who have problems with their arches, either overly flat feet or high-arched feet, are more prone to developing plantar fasciitis. Weight; poorly fitting shoes; and overuse (for example a sporting injury) may also contribute to or exacerbate the problem.
However, there are things you can do to relieve the plantar fasciitis heel pain, and here are just some examples.
Simple Stretching Exercise For Immediate Relief.
You’re free to try what I’m about to write right now, as it may provide you with a much-needed relief.
Reach forward and grasp your foot. If you aren’t flexible enough, just cross your leg and clasp your foot. Pull your toes up towards your shin while holding your foot with the other hand. Do you feel a stretch on the bottom of the foot? Hold this stretch for a count of 10 while feeling the stretch along the arch of the foot.
Repeat this at least 3 times on each side.
Do You Walk Around Barefoot?
Not wearing shoes helps PREVENT plantar fasciitis, but when you’ve worn shoes your whole life, and all the muscles in your feet and calves are extremely weak, and you are diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, it can then be dangerous to walk barefooted.
The reason is that the structures in the foot can’t handle the sudden stress of walking barefoot if you are not used to it, especially if you have chronic inflammation or degeneration in the heel. The pressure is far too great for your plantar fascia to handle being barefoot at this point. Even shoes that are marketed as “barefoot” or “minimalist shoes” should be avoided until the condition is alleviated.
The Use Of Ice.
To ice the arch of the foot, you can get yourself some 12-ounce or 16-ounce plastic water bottles, or frozen juice containers. Place the water bottles in the freezer. Once frozen, roll the bottle under your foot for 10 to 15 minutes. Refreeze the bottle so you can do this a couple of times a day.
The Importance of Rest.
It’s important to keep weight off your foot until the inflammation goes down, but how much is too much? The most common objection to the suggestion of thorough rest is the fear of getting critically out of shape. This fear is often expressed by the fittest people, who are actually in the least danger. Chronic pain is a much greater threat to your fitness than resting. And nothing will keep an overuse injury going like more use. It’s also usually easy to rest and protect an injury while still maintaining some fitness by exercising in other ways. Speak to your doctor if you have any questions about what you can and can’t do.
Oral Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).
NSAIDs such as ibuprofen may be recommended to reduce pain and inflammation.
The use of anti-inflammatory drugs in chronic inflammatory diseases is common but controversial. The advantages of NSAIDs are the acceptability of their use as a treatment by many patients, the convenience and ease of use, and the acceptance by medical insurance companies. The disadvantages of NSAIDs are the possible side-effects of the drugs, (including the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, gastric pain, and renal damage) and the numbing of pain that allows patients to keep doing work of exercise that acerbates the diagnosis.
Wearing supportive shoes that have good arch support and a slightly raised heel reduces stress on the plantar fascia. For individuals with flat feet, orthopedic shoes or motion control shoes with better longitudinal arch support may decrease the pain associated with long periods of walking or standing. These shoes usually have the following characteristics: a straight last, board or comb-last construction, an external heel counter, a wider flare (for your toes to spread), and extra medial support.
Some Other Tips And Precautions To Relieve Heel Pain.
If you still feel pain after several weeks, see your foot and ankle surgeon, who may add one or more of these approaches to your to-do list: Padding, taping and strapping. These approaches are in essence techniques to help correct the underlying structural abnormalities causing the plantar fasciitis.
In some cases, corticosteroid injections are used to help reduce your inflammation and heel pain, but I would like to think of that approach as a last measure of sorts.
A removable walking cast may also be relied upon to keep your foot immobile for a few weeks so that it can properly rest and heal. Another tip is wearing a night splint, as it will enable you to maintain an extended stretch of the plantar fascia while you sleep. This may reduce the agonizing morning heel pain experienced by some people. Exercises and other physical therapy measures can also be explored to provide further relief.
However, prevention as always is better than the cure. Wearing non-supportive footwear on hard, flat surfaces puts an abnormal strain on the plantar fascia which can also lead to plantar fasciitis. This is particularly true when one’s job requires long hours on the feet. If you feel the first twinges of pain, get yourself a sturdy pair of orthotic shoes and try any of the suggestions above to see if you can fend off any problems at the start.