Plantar fasciitis is a condition that causes pain in the heel due to inflammation of the plantar fascia – a thick band of tissue that runs across the sole of the foot and connects the toes to the heel bone. Plantar fasciitis is known to be one of the most common causes of pain in the heel.
Plantar fasciitis is characterized by the stabbing pain in the heel that takes place while making the first steps the next morning. Plantar fasciitis is common in runners, overweight people, pregnant women and people who wear improper shoes that provide less arch support.
The pain caused by plantar fasciitis usually:
- Affects one foot – however, it may occur in both feet
- Develops gradually
- Triggered by prolonged weight bearing activities, and worsens when the person makes the first steps in the morning
- Feels like a stab pain directly to the heel of the foot
The plantar fascia acts as a shock-absorber under normal circumstances supporting the foot’s arch. However, excessive tension and pressure to the plantar fascia due to prolonged or repetitive weight bearing activities may cause small tears, causing it to get irritated and inflamed.
The following treatment steps may reduce pain and discomfort in your heel before your appointment with your doctor.
- Rest your feet. Stay off your feet for a few days until pain has subsided
- Apply ice to the foot. Use a washcloth with an ice pack to compress the affected region for 15-20 minutes, every 2-3 hours or after physical activity to reduce pain and swelling. You can also try an ice massage by freezing a water filled plastic water bottle or paper cup and rolling it under your foot for 5-7 minutes. Performing an ice massage regularly may reduce inflammation and pain.
- Avoid prolonged activity. You do not have to stop walking or running completely (unless instructed by your health care provider to avoid activity), but you can cover shorter distances until pain retires
- Follow no or low-impact exercises. Swimming or swinging (riding a stationary bike) may be better alternatives for running, jumping or walking for extended periods. This will allow you to gradually return to normal exercises and rest your foot at the same time. Your doctor may prescribe special exercises to maintain the flexibility and strength of the joints and muscles of the foot.
- Use arch supports and custom-made orthotics. Avoid wearing uncomfortable, ill-fitting and improper footwear if you want symptoms to disappear, especially high heels. You can use over-the-counter arch supports to redcue the tension to the plantar fascia.
- Stretch your arches with simple exercises such as Achilles tendon and calf stretched using simple household items. Rolling an object such as a ball or a rolling pin is one exercise most experts recommend.
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