If you have pain in your heels very often and especially when getting out of bed in the morning you may have a case of plantar fasciitis which is pronounced as “plan-ter fash-ee-eye-tus” for those of you who have never heard of this word or this condition before. This is quite a common cause of foot pain. But what is plantar fasciitis exactly and how can you treat it?
Plantar fasciitis is sometimes mistaken for excessive subtalar joint pronation, but they’re not the same.
The heel bone is connected to your toes by a flat band of tissue called the plantar fascia. When strained, the plantar fascia can get weak, irritated or swollen. This strain can be caused by tension on the ligament which results in micro-tears of the tissue. This is called plantar fasciitis.
With plantar fasciitis the pain usually occurs when stepping out of bed in the morning or when getting up after sitting down for a long time. The pain can occur at the center or on the sides of the heel. The severity differs from person to person and can sometimes be so severe that it hinders the patient from walking barefoot. After taking a couple of steps the pain and stiffness fade a little, but the feet can hurt more throughout the day. The severity in the morning is due to the fact that the plantar fascia tends to shorten and tighten in long rest periods.
Everyone can get plantar fasciitis, but it is more common in females, people who are overweight or those who have a job that involves a lot of walking or standing. People who do a running sport or those who walk for exercise are also at risk especially when they have a case of gastrocnemius muscle shortening. Also very prone to plantar fasciitis are people with flat feet or excessively high arches.
When going for diagnosis the doctor watches you walk and stand. He also checks your feet and asks questions about:
Past health (the illnesses or injuries you may have had)
Symptoms (when your foot hurts most and where the pain occurs)
Types of physical activity you do (activity level)
If it is left untreated, plantar fasciitis may develop into a chronic condition or into a calcaneal spur. Your comfortable activity level may decrease and it can also change the way you walk resulting in foot, back, knee and hip problems. It is advised to see a doctor as soon as you start feeling pains. Since weight, activity level and symptoms differs from person to person, there is no single treatment that works for every patient.
|orthotic therapy is an option of treatment for plantar fasciitis. Orthotics help reduce plantar fascial traction forces.|
|Resting the foot or feet. Reducing the activity level and avoiding walking or running on hard surfaces.|
|Putting ice on the heel. This to reduce swelling and pain in the heel area.|
|Over-the- counter pain relievers or anti inflammatory medicines are very common and help a great deal with reducing the pains.|
|Doing stretches: Toe stretches, calf stretches, and towel stretches when you get up in the morning and repeating them a couple of times a day.|
|Getting a new pair of shoes. Choosing shoes that support the arches and that have a cushioned sole is important.|
|Shoe inserts or heel cups may be advised by your doctor. It is important to use these in both shoes, even if only one of the feet hurts. In some cases these need to be custom made. The doctor will advise whether this is the case or if you can just buy them.|
In some cases these treatments aren’t effective. The doctor may then recommend shots of medicine (steroid) in the heels or splints which are worn at night. Surgery is usually a last resort and the doctor only recommends this to people for who other treatments don’t work after six to twelve months.
In conclusion, plantar fasciitis can and should be treated to avoid it turning into a chronic condition. The treatments usually take some time to be effective but the pain will start to fade within a couple of weeks of treatment. It is important however, to make sure that you continue treatment even if the pain fades. This is because a lower amount of pain may not mean that the condition has been treated completely. If the condition is still present, stopping treatment may cause it to worsen again so if you do not want that to happen, you must get treatment on time.
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