You may not have heard of the plantar fascia until a stabbing pain started running through your heel, often when taking your first steps of the day. This telltale symptom of plantar fasciitis means your plantar fascia is irritated or inflamed.
At Premier Foot and Ankle Center & Elite Upper Extremity and Plastic Surgery, we see people with heel pain from plantar fasciitis on a regular basis.
Fortunately, our team can help ease your symptoms and reduce your chances of ongoing problems. But without the right care, plantar fasciitis can cause chronic problems. Here’s what you need to know.
What’s to blame for plantar fasciitis?
Your plantar fascia is a tough, thick band of tissue along the bottom of your foot. It runs from the base of your toes to your heel, supporting the arch of your foot and functioning as a shock absorber when you walk.
Plantar fasciitis typically develops because of tears to the fascia from tension and stress. Over time, this ongoing damage can lead to inflammation and irritation, triggering intense and stabbing pain in the heel.
Anyone can develop plantar fasciitis, but your risks increase if you:
- Are overweight or obese
- Are 40-60 years old
- Have a high arch or atypical gait
- Spend long periods standing or walking on hard surfaces
- Engage in activities that put stress on your heel and support tissue, like long-distance running, aerobic dance, and ballet
No one enjoys a trip to the doctor, but ignoring plantar fasciitis can lead to a variety of complications.
One significant side effect of plantar fasciitis involves how you walk, because it’s common to change your natural walking pattern to avoid pain. This compensation can trigger other problems in your foot, knee, hip, or back.
Delaying treatment for plantar fasciitis can also lead to chronic heel pain.
Finding relief for plantar fasciitis
We can often diagnose plantar fasciitis during a routine exam by checking for tenderness in your foot. Sometimes, we also perform additional diagnostic testing, like X-rays or MRIs, to look for other problems, like bone spurs or stress fractures.
After reaching a diagnosis, we put together a personalized treatment strategy to help ease your symptoms and provide relief. In most cases, this typically includes a combination of approaches, such as:
- Icing the area
- Stretching the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon
- Replacing worn-out shoes, especially those used during physical activity
- Wearing supportive shoes with extra cushioning and thick soles
- Doing strengthening exercises for lower leg muscles
- Modifying or avoiding activities that trigger discomfort
- Taking medications to reduce pain and inflammation
- Using custom-made orthotics
- Losing weight
If your pain doesn’t respond to conservative therapies, we could recommend additional treatments like steroid injections or ultrasonic tissue repair. We could also suggest surgery, but most plantar fasciitis cases don’t require surgical intervention.
Living with plantar fasciitis isn’t easy, but with our help, you can ease your symptoms and avoid chronic problems.
Do you have heel pain? Don’t let it slow you down. Contact us at the Premier Foot and Ankle Center office nearest you to find relief today. We’re located in Worcester, Webster, and Leominster, Massachusetts.