Is Plantar Fasciitis Causing You Trouble? How to Know (and What to Do
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain in our day and age, but that does not mean every case of heel pain can be traced to this condition. In other words, you can’t call every instance of heel pain “plantar fasciitis.”
Determining the best treatment for heel pain requires a full evaluation and understanding of the problems at the source. Not all causes of heel pain – and not even all causes of plantar fasciitis – will benefit best from the same treatments, so it is well worth it to be specific!
The best course of action for any form of persistent heel pain is to give us a call for a professional examination and treatment plan. But it still can help to know what kinds of symptoms to be looking for when plantar fasciitis is a suspect. The more alert you are and the more you can tell us about your symptoms, the more clues we will have for making a direct diagnosis.
What Does Plantar Fasciitis Feel Like?
Different patients may describe the symptoms of their plantar fasciitis a bit differently, but there are still some commonalities that run through most cases.
The pain from plantar fasciitis is typically felt along the bottom of the heel or the arch of the foot. This pain can be described in different ways, from a sharp, stabbing sensation to a duller ache. There is no real need to get hung up on how exactly the pain feels, though – any type of pain is a pain that should not be there!
Pain and discomfort from plantar fasciitis are typically not constant but are consistent. You may come to depend on your feet hurting at various times of the day or after certain activities. Most frequent situations in which pain becomes notably worse include:
- Getting out of bed in the morning. Pain tends to hit as soon as you put weight on your feet, and recedes after you spend a few minutes moving about.
- Starting to move again after any long period of standing or sitting still.
- After exercise, but typically not during it.
In the earlier stages of plantar fasciitis, your discomfort may diminish relatively quickly once you stop placing weight on your feet and give them a bit of a rest. However, the longer plantar fasciitis persists, the longer you may have to endure these periods of pain.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms?
So what may be responsible for the pain when you start moving in the morning, or the ache you feel after being active?
If the condition is indeed plantar fasciitis, then the area of focus (unsurprisingly) is the plantar fascia. This is a strong band of tissue that connects the heel bone (calcaneus) to the base of your toes, passing through the arch as it does so.
The plantar fascia is built to flex, absorbing and releasing force to help us as we walk. It’s designed for the task, but there are certain situations where it can become overwhelmed. When strain is too great on the plantar fascia, tiny tears can develop in the tissue, which leads to pain and irritation. This strain can come from overuse (such as the repetitive impacts of distance running), having to stand and move on hard surfaces often, or abnormalities in foot structure that shift more weight onto the plantar fascia, among other reasons.
But then why the pain in the morning and after starting to move after inactivity? That is believed to occur due to the body attempting to heal the plantar fascia while at rest. When the tissue starts to stretch and flex again, it takes on sudden stress and tension that can serve as a shock to it.
What to Do About Plantar Fasciitis
The good news about plantar fasciitis – and any other persistent cause of heel pain, for that matter – is that you don’t need to have all the answers and solutions yourself. We can help you determine not only what condition is responsible for your heel pain, but also what underlying factors are contributing to that condition.
The latter part is especially important. If we address only the symptoms of your heel pain but not what is at the root of it, you are likely to experience the same problems in the future. Addressing both symptoms and causes gives us the best route toward comprehensive, long-lasting relief.
Since there can be so many factors in play, a treatment plan for one patient with plantar fasciitis may look different than the plan for another patient with the same condition. Parts of a treatment plan might include one or more of the methods below (and even some that aren’t listed here):
- Rest, reducing weight and impact on the plantar fascia
- Over-the-counter medications or cortisone injections for pain relief
- Changes to more accommodating footwear
- The use of custom orthotics to provide better distribution of weight across the plantar fascia
- The use of night splints or other aids to keep the plantar fascia in an extended position overnight, reducing morning pain
- Stretches and exercises designed to strengthen and condition the plantar fascia, Achilles tendons, calves, and other interconnected elements
- Changes to the environment, such as the use of anti-fatigue mats during work, or incorporating more time off one’s feet, if able
- Changing workout routines and intensities to reduce overuse risk
- Advanced therapies such as MLS laser to increase pain relief and accelerate recovery of the plantar fascia
In the vast majority of plantar fasciitis cases, conservative treatments such as those above can drastically improve or outright eliminate discomfort within a few months. Surgery is rarely ever necessary.
Know Your Heel Pain. Treat Your Heel Pain.
Do not be disappointed if you have already tried one or two home remedies for a suspected case of plantar fasciitis, only to see little or no results.The odds are likely that you just haven’t tried a treatment that directly addresses the specific causes and needs of your situation.