Symptoms and Treatment of Heel Pain Caused by Plantar Fasciitis
Heel pain is commonly caused by a condition called plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis can also be called heel spur syndrome if a spur is present. Of course, plantar fasciitis is not the only cause of heel pain. Heel pain can also be caused by a injuries, such as a stress fracture or tendonitis, or can be caused by arthritis, nerve irritation, or a cyst. There are many possible causes, so it is important that you don't just assume you have plantar fasciitis because you have heel pain. You should always have foot problems properly diagnosed by a podiatrist.
Plantar Fasciitis Causes
Plantar fasciitis is most frequently due, in part, to a faulty structure of the foot. People who suffer from arch problems, such as flat feet or high arches, are more apt to develop the condition. Wearing footwear without enough support while standing or walking on hard surfaces can put an unusual amount of stress on the plantar fascia, which can cause the condition as well. Obesity can also contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis may include:
- Pain located on the bottom of the heel
- Pain that is often worse when arising from bed or from sitting
- Pain that increases over time
Plantar fasciitis sufferers frequently say their pain increases in the morning right after waking up or after sitting for a long time. After walking around for a while, the pain usually fades, because walking stretches out the fascia. For some, the pain will return after spending a lot of time on their feet.
When diagnosing plantar fasciitis, your podiatrist will look over your medical history and give you a thorough foot exam. Plantar fasciitis is not the only cause of heel pain, so your podiatrist will be careful to rule out any other possibilities. Getting a proper diagnosis is vital in getting rid of your heel pain quickly. Diagnostic imaging studies like x-rays, a bone scan, or an MRI may be utilized during the exam. Heel spurs are found in patients suffering from plantar fasciitis on occasion, but heel spurs are rarely the cause of the patient's heel pain. If a heel spur is found, the patients condition may be called heel spur syndrome or plantar fasciitis.
Treatment Options for Plantar Fasciitis
- Stretching exercises stretch out the calf muscles help ease pain and assist with recovery. This video can show you some of the basic stretching exercise our practice commonly prescribes.
- Try not to go barefoot. Walking without footwear on puts a lot of pressure on your plantar fascia.
- Apply an ice pack for 10-20 minutes several times a day to help decrease inflammation in the heel.
- Limit or eliminate demanding physical activities so your heel will have time to recover and heal.
- Wear supportive shoes. They need to have a good arch support. Try to find shoes with a slightly raised heel as well. That takes some of the strain off of the plantar fascia. The above video, The Perfect Shoe Selection, helps inform our patients on determining the correct shoe.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen, may be prescribed by your podiatrist to help decrease your pain and inflammation.
- Weight loss. Extra weight just adds more stress to your plantar fascia.
If you are still experiencing pain after trying the more conservative treatment methods, your podiatrist may add one or more of the following treatments to your plan:
- Shoe inserts or pads for cushioning in your shoes. Strapping may also be recommended.
- Custom orthotic devices. These devices go into your shoe just like an over-the-counter shoe insert, but they are made especially for your foot and the issues you are having.
- Corticosteroid injections may be utilized in some patients to help decrease inflammation and relieve pain.
- A removable walking cast may be needed to keep your foot immobilized for a while during your rehabilitatation.
- A night splint can be useful. A splint keeps the plantar fascia stretched out while you are sleeping, which reduce the intense morning pain experienced by some patients.
- Stretching exercises and other physical therapy procedures are beneficial and may be utilized in treating plantar fasciitis pain.
- In some cases, surgery may be necessary.
If your plantar fasciitis does not respond to conservative treatment methods and you are still experiencing heel pain, your podiatrist will discuss further treatment options with you, such as dry needling or shock wave therapy. They may also want to start discussing surgical procedures.
Even after your plantar fasciitis is cured, you should continue taking preventative measures. If your plantar fasciitis was caused by faulty foot structure, being overweight, or another underlying problem, it can come back if preventative measures are not continued. You should continue wearing orthotics if they were prescribed and all plantar fasciitis sufferers should continue to wear supportive shoes.