If you happen to wake up in the morning and experience a stabbing pain either in your heel or at the center of your foot, then there’s a high possibility you have plantar fasciitis. According to most orthopedic doctors, this condition is quite common and is most prevalent in athletes, pregnant women, overweight individuals, those wearing shoes with inadequate support, and office workers who stand for long hours.
Now, what exactly is plantar fasciitis?
For those who may not be aware of this orthopedic complaint, plantar fasciitis is generally a strain or inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament. Now, the plantar fascia is a thick fibrous tissue that runs from your toes to your heel bone to connect them together.
When this web-like tissue is pressed and strained, it causes an irritation or an inflammation that result in plantar fasciitis.
What causes this condition?
Like we mentioned earlier, the main purpose of the plantar fascia is to support your foot by absorbing shock and impact when walking, standing or running. As this tension intensifies, small tears occur in the fascia which causes irritation then inflammation.
Now, some people have been asking the difference between plantar fasciitis and heel spur. Although these two seem to have similar symptoms and causes, a heel spur (a small bone that forms on the heel bone) is quite different as it doesn’t cause pain as plantar fasciitis does.
Although the main causes of plantar fasciitis are yet to be established, here are 6 obvious causes that have been confirmed to escalate the sparks of this condition.
Age: Whether you’re a man or a woman, once you reach the age of 40 to 60 years, you’re at a high risk of developing plantar fasciitis.
Weight: If you’re obese, pregnant or you’ve simply added some weight, you also stand a risk of developing this condition as most of the pressure is absorbed by the plantar fascia ligaments.
Exercising: Exercises such as running, workouts, and aerobic dancing can strain your heels and cause this common condition.
Foot mechanics: Conditions such as flat feet, high arches, tight Achilles tendons and calf muscles can also contribute to the onset of plantar fasciitis.
Wearing high heeled shoes, worn-out shoes or severe cases of arthritis can also cause this condition.
How is plantar fasciitis diagnosed?
Before treatment begins, your doctor is expected to perform some tests to verify the root cause of your problem. To avoid misdiagnosis, your doctor will expect you to submit your previous medical history such as previous injuries you’ve had.
Your doctor will also ask about your symptoms such as where you’re feeling the pain. Sometimes your doctor might massage your heel and ask you to stretch your toes just to be sure of where the pain is emanating from.
When the root cause is determined, your doctor will finally suggest an X-Ray or a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) just to rule out other possible causes such as fractures or heel spurs.
How is it treated?
When the spikes of plantar fasciitis become intense, most people consider conservative home treatments such as icing the affected area, stretching, using braces and supports or considering anti-inflammatory drugs. But, what if these home remedies fail to work? In this case, here are some additional treatments your doctor might suggest.
Physical therapy: With the help of a physical therapist, you can engage in several exercises such as stretching your toes and Achilles tendons to strengthen your leg muscles. Calf stretches and towel stretches (placing a rolled towel under your foot) can also help you a lot.
Night splints: When you sleep with your heels pointing downwards, they tend to relax tightening the plantar fascia. Wearing night splints while sleeping will tend to stretch your calf and the arch of your foot when sleeping further strengthening your plantar fascia ligaments to speed up recovery.
Orthotics: Orthotics are supportive devices that are helpful in the case of musculoskeletal problems such as muscle, bones, and ligament fractures or dislocations. Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may suggest you wear supportive shoes that provide additional cushioning to distribute pressure evenly throughout your feet.
If you’re experiencing difficulty selecting the best orthopedic shoes, authentic sites such as Findmyfootwear.com can really help as they have a huge selection of shoes with thick soles and extra cushioning.
Physical therapy: Physical therapy such as massaging can really help in stretching the muscles to help stabilize your walk and reduce pain. When massaging your foot, focus more on the arch of your foot where the plantar fasciitis is aching most.
Anti-inflammatory medication: Some drugs such as cortisone, ibuprofen, and naproxen can really help to reduce pain and inflammation when injected in the infected area. As a side note, always make sure the medication is Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAID). Also, avoid taking these drugs for too long as prolonged use can pose some health dangers.
Shockwave therapy: Although research hasn’t confirmed this procedure to be really effective, some doctors have moved on to recommend it especially when conservative treatments fail to work. In this procedure, sound waves are used to treat the infected area to get rid of the pain and further stimulate healing.
Surgery: Finally, there’s surgery. In most cases, this step is considered when all the other treatments have failed. Here, there are two types of surgeries involved. One is the plantar fascia release while the other is gastrocnemius recession.
In the plantar fascia release surgery, the surgeon cuts the plantar fascia to detach it from your heel bone to reduce tension and pain.
On the other hand, the gastrocnemius recession surgery involves lengthening the calf muscle to increase ankle motion and reduce pain.
Although surgery is an effective method of treating plantar fascia, it has severe health consequences such as nerve damage and chronic pain.
Plantar fasciitis is an orthopedic condition that causes significant pain in your feet when you try to move. This condition can be treated and cured with recovery taking anywhere from 6 months to one year. With a combination of physical therapy, home treatments, medical treatments, and wearing the right footwear, this condition can be treated especially when you follow your doctor’s prescription.