Foot and Ankle specialists attribute one of the most common causes of heel pain to Plantar fasciitis, also known as Heel Spurs. It occurs when the thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes (the plantar fascia) suffers inflammation and causes pain.
Patients commonly report Plantar fasciitis as causing a stabbing pain that occurs with your first steps in the morning. As patients get up and move around, the pain normally decreases, but it might return after long periods of standing or when you stand up after sitting.
Plantar fasciitis typically causes a stabbing pain near the bottom of the heel. The pain usually worsens during the first few steps after waking up, although it can also trigger from long periods of standing or when you get up after sitting. The pain usually gets worse after exercise.
The plantar fascia itself consists of a strip of tissue that stretches from the heel all the way to the ball of the foot. It acts as a shock absorber for the foot when walking, and helps maintain the shape of the foot. Over time, stressing the fascia leads to the formation of tiny tears in the tissue, which can lead to inflammation and pain. Specialists urge patients to not ignore plantar fasciitis, as it can lead to worse heel pain that can interfere with daily life. Patients suffering from plantar fasciitis also have a higher risk of developing problems in other parts of the body due to the changes patients make to their walking posture to avoid heel pain.
Many patients with plantar fasciitis recover in a matter of months using conservative treatment, including:
- Losing weight. Extra weight puts extra stress on plantar fascia.
- Wearing supportive shoes. Shoes with low heels, thick soles, arch support and cushioning.
- Replace old shoes before they lose cushion and support.
- Change sports. Switching to a low-impact sport, such as swimming or bicycling, can help with Plantar Fasciitis.
- Ice. Apply an ice pack on the affected area for 15 minutes three or four times a day. Ice may help reduce inflammation.
- Stretch your arches. Simple exercises may help stretch your plantar fascia, Achilles tendon and calf muscles.
Taking Pain relievers such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium (Aleve) may help ease the pain and inflammation caused by plantar fasciitis.
If conservative measures fail to provide relief after several months, Specialists may recommend:
- Injections. steroid injections into the affected area can provide temporary pain relief. Platelet-rich plasma injections can also promote tissue healing.
- Surgery. Some patients require surgery in order to detach the plantar fascia from the heel bone. Specialists generally only resort to surgery when all other treatments have failed. Surgeons can perform Plantar Fasciotomy as an open procedure or through a small incision with local anesthesia.