Why Does My Heel Hurt - Plantar Fasciitis

“Doc, my heel hurts” is without a doubt one of the most common sentences uttered in podiatry offices across the world.  Heel pain can range from slightly uncomfortable to utterly debilitating and is most often caused by Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that extends from the heel to the ball of the foot.  Plantar fasciitis occurs when this band becomes irritated by excessive stress, causing inflammation and pain.  The cardinal signs of Plantar Fasciitis include excruciating pain near the heel during the first morning steps, recurring pain when standing up from a seated position and heel pain associated with standing for long periods of time. 

Plantar fasciitis can affect anyone; however, it is most common in middle-aged active adults.  Other risk factors include obesity, occupations where you work on your feet all day and flat feet or high arches.  All of these put excess stress on the plantar fascia which increases the likelihood of developing Plantar fasciitis. 

The great news about plantar fasciitis is it is very treatable!  The key to management is detecting it early and preventing further complications.  If left untreated, plantar fasciitis can lead to a variety of other orthopedic problems, including knee, hip and back pain.  Non-surgical treatment often has wonderful results and includes the following:

·       Rest –Pain is the body’s way to warn you that something is wrong.  Listen to your body and avoid activities that make the pain worse (e.g. running, hiking, dancing)

·       Stretch – Your podiatrist will give you with a list of stretches that help reduce the tension on the plantar fascia and facilitate healing.  Tight calf muscles often play a role in heel pain.  

·       Ice –Place ice on the bottom of the foot for 20 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day.  Ice therapy is a wonderful way to decrease inflammation and manage the pain.

·       Medications – Pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, can help decrease the inflammation and speed up the healing process.

·       Night Splints – Night splints help stretch your plantar fascia while you are sleeping.  This decreases the pain experienced during the first few steps in the morning. 

Surgical treatment is often an option, but like other conditions is reserved for those not responding to conservative treatment.  In order to prevent recurrence, be sure to stretch properly before exercising and wear proper shoes if you will be on your feet for a prolonged time period. 

As with any foot or heel issue, please consider making an appointment with Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona.  We want to make sure you're back on your feet in no time!


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