Plantar Fasciitis: Its Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention
Overstretching the plantar fascia could lead to inflammation and tearing, resulting in dull or even stabbing arch pain.
Plantar Fasciitis is by far the most common source of heel pain. If the heel of the flat middle part of your foot is barking, it's very likely you've got plantar fasciitis. But, of course, there are exceptions, so you should know the specific warning signs so you can perfect your self-diagnosis.
Rest assured, if you've got any questions about the pain in your heel and you think it's plantar fasciitis, give us a call and we'll get you in for a consultation.
To know what plantar fasciitis is, you need to understand plantar fascia. Plantar fascia is the thick tissue on the bottom of your foot connecting your heel bone to the toes, creating the arch of the foot.
When functioning correctly, your plantar fascia will act as shock absorption, supporting the arch of your foot as you run, walk, or put tension on your foot and arch. When tension becomes too great for your heel to handle, small tears may appear in the fascia.
Plantar Fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia due to high tension, resulting in sharp heel pain or deep aching in the arch or heel area.
One of our surgical podiatrists Dr. Timothy Henke explains the basics of plantar fasciitis in this video.
Plantar fasciitis is an ordinary ailment among runners. It can be seen in any athlete, young or old. Whether you experience it or not comes down, mainly, to technique. Are you pushing yourself past your limits? Did you warmup ahead of time? Is your workout comprehensively planned out, or do you wing it? A number of possibilities for the cause of plantar fasciitis exist, such as:
- Lack of stretching
- Extensive uphill running
- Unnecessary or improper sprinting
- Aging and career field
- Weight gain, including pregnancy
- Crohn's disease and other types of IBD
The easiest way to reduce the effects of plantar fasciitis is to slow your training intensity down and make small steady increases to your running routine. Focus on your running form; many runners get sloppy form when exhausted or sprinting because they are focused on reaching a goal in an aggressive time frame. Always remember to take time before a run to perform simple stretches and plan out your workout so you don’t push yourself beyond your limitations.
Overexerting yourself while running, especially without stretching properly, can exacerbate the pain of plantar fasciitis.
A common indicator of plantar fasciitis is pain in your first few footsteps of the day. Waking up with pain is never an enjoyable experience, but you have options available.
Here are a few more common symptoms of plantar fasciitis:
- Stabbing pain in the bottom of the foot, near the heel
- Pain after long periods of standing or sitting
- Stiffness in the heel
- Burning near the middle of the foot
- Difficulty climbing stairs
If you, a friend, or a loved one is suffering from plantar fasciitis, our foot doctors at Advanced Foot & Ankle specialize in foot pain relief and treatment. Contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment today!
The vast majority of patients with plantar fasciitis are able to relieve their heel pain with non-surgical treatments and home remedies. Very few people ever need to undergo surgery, although surgery may become a possibility if you ignore the problem long enough.
Jump on the problem early enough, and the following solutions should be enough to get you back up on your feet with no pain, or simply make enduring the pain in the interim more tolerable:
- Physical therapy
- Night splints: a splint that stretches your calf and the arch of your foot while you sleep. This holds the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon in a lengthened position overnight and facilitates stretching
- Wear shoes with proper shock absorption and arch support
- Use anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen) or put ice on your heel
- Stretch your toes and calves, especially in the morning
- Keep the weight off your plantar fascia until the pain subsides
Preventing plantar fasciitis mainly involves staying active (without overexerting) and routinely stretching your plantar fascia to strengthen the muscles supporting your arch. More prevention tips:
- Stretch as soon as you get out of bed in the morning
- Wear the right shoes with good arch support
- Get orthotics to keep your arch supported—and wear them in both shoes
- Rest your feet! Limit the activities causing your heel pain
Aging and Your Career Field: A Perfect Formula for Injury
Spending many years on your feet as a construction worker makes you vulnerable to developing plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is most common in adults over 40 and people who are actively on their feet most of the day. Does this sound like you? For many Americans, plantar fasciitis is an unwanted, unbearable daily reality. Balancing work and home life can be a challenge in itself, but throwing uncontrollable leg pain in the mix when you’re expected to be on your feet all day can feel debilitating. Many jobs can increase your chance of developing plantar fasciitis, especially:
- Factory Workers
- Construction Workers
- Mail Delivery
As you get older, even less labor intensive jobs can put a burden on your body. After the age of 50, your health catches up to you. For older men and women in the following fields, plantar fasciitis can still develop:
- Teaching – General and Athletic
If possible you should try to reduce your standing time or reduce the hardness of the surface you are standing on. Ask your employer about installing rubber floor mats to help reduce fatigue on your feet, back, and joints. Bringing floor mat solutions to work can also help, but can be bulky and will never be as effective as using orthotics products.
Related: How aging changes your feet
Weight Gain—Pregnancy Can Be Painful
When people quickly gain excessive weight for any reason, their leg muscles are not used to the added pressure caused by extra body mass and can cause the plantar fascia to become irritated. Other possibilities include the arch shape in the foot, like flat feet or high arches, being affected by the weight gain. Being prepared for a pregnancy or unexpected weight gain isn’t always a possibility, but Advanced Foot and Ankle offers customizable orthotics products as solutions for foot, leg, and even back pain, with our services, including:
- Toe pain treatment
- Ankle pain relief
- Foot and leg injury remedies
- Nail health care
- Treatment for foot pain caused by diabetes