Everyone has his or her own natural preferences when it comes to morning versus night activities, but we can all find common ground in agreeing that sharp, intense pain can sour anyone’s day pretty quickly. When heel pain strikes, the usual culprit is a condition known as plantar fasciitis. This soft tissue injury is quite common, but the good news is that our doctors at The Kansas Foot Center are able to help many patients overcome their heel pain!
This common medical issue develops in the plantar fascia, which is a tough band of fibrous tissue that connects the bottom of the heel to the forefoot. The fascia runs along the bottom of the foot and can be thought of as being like a drawstring for a bow. In this manner, the connective tissue helps to support the arch and ensure it springs back into place after collapsing with every step.
Causes and Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
The problem begins to develop when the plantar fascia is exposed to either excessive force (like those that come from high-impact activities) or overuse. In these cases, the fibrous tissue sustains tiny tears in response to the physical stress loads. This inflames the fascia, so the body works to mend the tears during periods of rest. When the tissue isn’t completely healed, the initial steps after periods of rest reopen the tears, which then leads to the condition’s primary symptom – intense, sharp heel pain.
Plantar Fasciitis Treatment
Treatment for this condition is typically conservative in nature. Home remedies and lifestyle changes that we might include as part of your treatment plan are icing regimens, stretching exercises, shoe choices, and maintaining a healthy bodyweight.
Icing is effective for reducing both inflammation and pain, especially when performed in 15-20 minute increments three or four times a day. It can also be beneficial following physical activity. When we recommend icing, be sure to cover the ice or ice pack with a thin towel to protect the skin in the area.
Regarding shoe choices, we may suggest avoiding high heel styles, like pumps and stilettos, and replacing old athletic shoes. If you are a runner and your footwear has logged around 500 miles or more, it is likely time to pick up a new pair that offers better arch support and cushioning.
Professional treatment options include medication, physical therapy, night splints, custom orthotics, or, in rare cases where conservative care has not produced desired results, even surgical procedures.
Preventing Plantar Fasciitis from Developing
Plantar fasciitis is certainly treatable, but there are also steps you can take to reduce your risk of injury in the first place. These include:
- Stretch daily. You do not have to perform a lengthy, extensive routine, but be sure to use exercises to stretch your calf muscles, Achilles tendon, and plantar fasciae every day.
- Cross-train. Plantar fasciitis is a common overuse injury and you can reduce the amount of stress placed upon the connective tissue by subbing out a couple of high-impact activities during the week for low-impact ones. Swapping out some running days for swimming, cycling, and/or yoga will lower your injury risk, and promote greater overall wellness!
- Increase activity levels gradually. This injury develops for some patients when they first start out a new workout program without easing into it. You can lower your risk of this and other injuries by simply starting at a relatively easy level and gradually increasing it by 10% every week.
- Wear the right shoes. Supportive, well-constructed footwear will protect your feet and reduce the stress placed on your plantar fasciae.
Heel Pain Treatment at The Kansas Foot Center
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain for adults, but you don’t have to suffer from this injury! Instead, come in and see us here at The Kansas Foot Center. We will diagnose the source of your pain and then provide an effective treatment plan to relieve it. With offices in Wichita and Newton, we are close by, so contact us today. Either give us a call at (866) 222-5177 or use our online form to request an appointment.