Dr. Dale Rader
Pain in the Heel: Diagnosing, treating plantar fasciitis
Special to SVLfreenews.com
If your first few steps out of bed in the morning cause a stabbing pain in the heel of your foot, it’s very likely you are suffering from plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis involves the inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes. The pain is typically worse first thing in the morning or after other long periods of physical inactivity.
An estimated 10 percent of Americans experience this condition at some point in their lifetime. It is most common in adults between the ages of 40 and 60.
Risk factors that increase your likelihood of a plantar fasciitis diagnosis are:
► Being female;
► Running, as a sport or hobby;
► Being overweight; and
► Regularly walking or standing on hard surfaces
The condition typically starts gradually, with the sensation of mild pain at the heel bone, often referred to as a stone bruise. The patient is more likely to feel the pain after, as opposed to during, physical exercise.
“Plantar fasciitis is a fairly common and treatable over-use injury,” says Dr. Dale Rader, an orthopedic physician with Davis Medical Group Orthopedic & Sports Medicine. “But left untreated, it can become a chronic condition that prevents you from maintaining your activity level. It can also cause knee, hip, and back problems because plantar fasciitis can change the way you walk.”
Under normal circumstances, your plantar fascia acts as a shock-absorbing bowstring, supporting the arch in your foot. Repetitive or chronic tension and stress on that bowstring can create small tears in the fascia and a resulting inflammation, although in many cases the cause of plantar fasciitis isn’t clear.
Footwear with proper arch and heel support is the best way to try to prevent foot pain and injuries, but if you find yourself with a diagnosis or suspected case of plantar fasciitis, there are some steps you can take at home. First, consider keeping weight off your foot until the initial inflammation subsides, applying ice to the painful area in 20-minute intervals throughout the day.
Finally, stretching exercises for your Achilles tendon and plantar fascia are by far the best treatments to address the injury and prevent re-occurrence.
A qualified orthopedist or physical therapist can help you with a definitive diagnosis and help develop a program you can follow at home. They can also advise you on how and when to return to your desired level of activity to ensure you don’t hinder your recovery.
Most importantly, don’t write off foot pain as something you just have to live with. Talk with your orthopedist or primary care physician about any issues that send you to the medicine cabinet regularly for managing pain or that restrict your level of movement and quality of life.