Heel pain affects everyone from time to time. However, when it persists for longer periods of time--after the uncomfortable shoes have been taken off and the feet have been rested after a busy day of strenuous activity or standing--and does not resolve on its own, it could be a sign of plantar fasciitis. The doctors at Five Cities Foot & ankle Clinic in Pismo Beach & Santa Maria, CA will be happy to help you understand the cause of your pain and come up with the solution that is best for you.
Signs and Symptoms of Heel Pain
The heel bone and toes are connected by a thick band of connective tissue that stretches across the bottom of the foot, known as the plantar fascia. Inflammation of this tissue leads to a sore to a sharp pain that is most intense with initial weight bearing the first thing in the morning or after sitting/inactivity. Others may find that the longer they are on their feet during the day, the more discomfort they have.
While anyone can develop plantar fasciitis, the most common causes of the condition include:
- Misalignment of the bones of the feet
- Overuse from running and other athletics
- Being overweight
- Walking/working out with shoes that do not provide adequate support, especially for people with a high arch, flat feet, or biomechanics issues that cause weight to be distributed unevenly as a person walks and stands.
How Does the Plantar Fascia Become Inflamed and Injured?
The plantar fascia primarily provides shock absorption to the heel and foot, the plantar fascia has an inherent degree elasticity (like a rubber band) that allows the foot to flex and adapt to the ground. Through increased pressure, repeated stretching, and wear and tear, the plantar fascia can develop small tears that lead to painful swelling and inflammation. In addition to the strain from athletic activities and obesity, plantar fasciitis can also develop as a result of other factors including:
- Improper shoe gear for an individuals foot type
- Physical activities like ballet and other sports that involve added stress and pressure on the heels
- Occupational risks for developing chronic heel pain are higher for professionals who spend long hours and shifts on their feet, such as teachers, nurses, factory workers, and retail workers
- Abnormal gait, structural misalignment of the feet and overpronation
What are the Treatment Options for Plantar Fasciitis?
At our office everyone is treated as an individual, so your personal evaluation will be very important in determining the underlying cause for your foot discomfort. Based on the cause of your plantar fasciitis our doctors will come up with appropriate treatment options for you and work with you to decide what will be in your best interest for initial treatment.
Possible treatment options include:
- Discussion of appropriate shoe gear for daily use
- The use of specific over the counter shoe inserts (some are much better than others)
- At home self-administered physical therapy
- Professionally administered physical therapy
- Custom made shoe inserts (orthotics)
- Injection therapy
Prior to any treatment, you can expect that you will have a very good understanding of what your condition is and what is causing you to have plantar fascial symptoms as well as any other symptoms. Our doctors firmly believe that your treatment is likely to be much more successful if you have a good understanding of what is causing the problem, what can be done to treat the problem, and realistic goals and expectations with regard to your treatment. There is no one treatment that works for everyone for any condition, individual evaluation, and a personalized treatment plan is the key to you getting the best possible results.