With all the extra standing and walking during the holiday season, any pain in the foot becomes a more debilitating problem. Sufferers of plantar fasciitis usually experience sharp, stabbing pains in their heels. This pain is usually at its worst in the morning when you take your first steps but you may notice it too after you have been standing on line at the mall for an extended period of time or after sitting through the company holiday party and then getting up.
What’s Behind the Pain
There’s a band of connective tissue in your foot that stretches from your heel bone across the arch and whole bottom of the foot to the base of your toes. When this band of tissue becomes inflamed, the heel and arch pain of plantar fasciitis is the result. At New England Foot & Ankle Specialists, we see patients with plantar fasciitis that stems from several sources: being overweight; flat feet or overly high arches that put extra stress on the plantar fascia; jobs that require long hours of standing (particularly on hard surfaces); exercise such as running or power walking, especially if the patient’s foot tends to overpronate, which means it rolls inward excessively.
Left untreated, plantar fasciitis can become extremely disabling because the pain will prevent you from walking normally and limit your activity. In compensating to avoid the pain, you may end up damaging your knees, back or hips, creating additional medical problems.
What Can Be Done
The good news is that most people respond to conservative treatment for this condition. One of our podiatrists: Dr. George A. Abboud, Dr. Brian D. Tedesco, Dr. Carl Conui or Dr. Kimberly Thurmond will first conduct a complete examination of your foot and ask you questions about the pain and other symptoms. X-rays or other imaging tests may be ordered to rule out foot disorders with similar symptoms.
Once the foot doctor has confirmed the diagnosis of plantar fasciitis, rest, icing and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications may be recommended initially to relieve the pain and inflammation. Other treatment options may include any or all of the following:
- Stretching exercises
- Orthotics—to correct the faulty foot structure and/or arch problem that may be causing the plantar fasciitis; in some instances padding will be recommended to act as a shock absorber
- Night splints—to help keep the plantar fascia stretched overnight; strapping during the day may also help
- Physical Therapy
In extreme cases where other therapies do not bring relief, surgery may be required. To find out how to get relief from your heel pain, make an appointment to come into either our Reading office by calling (781) 944-4044.