Chronically painful feet are hard to ignore and sometimes even harder to return to a pain-free state. Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, and occurs in all types of individuals. Although both men and women can be affected with plantar fasciitis, the condition typically strikes active men between the ages of 40 and 70.
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia ligament that runs along the arch of your foot becomes inflamed. This ligament is attached to the bottom of your heel bone, and this is why the pain is often felt in this area, usually at the back of the arch and right in front of the heel. In about 50 percent of people with this condition, there is also a heel spur.
The pain can manifest in different degrees. Some patients with this condition describe it as a dull pain, while others feel a sharp twinge. Some may experience a burning or ache at the bottom of their foot that extends outward from the heel. This pain generally worst either with the first few steps in the morning, standing for long periods of time, or getting up after prolonged sitting.
Plantar fasciitis is caused by such factors as: too much standing, unpadded shoes on hard ground, unsupportive shoes, repetitive stress, diet low in vitamin C, a change or increase in activities, being overweight, age-related shrinkage of the heel fat pad of the heel, or an injury. People who are pregnant, diabetic, flat footed or have a high arch in their foot are also more likely to be affected with plantar fasciitis.
Home care can be very effective for plantar fasciitis. The most successful home treatments include gentle stretching of the calf muscles, decreasing or changing activities, losing weight, better fitting shoes (with an arch support and raised heel), shoe inserts that have good arch support, heel pads (1/2" or more when compressed), applying ice for five minutes after activities (roll foot over frozen water bottle), and anti-inflammatory medication such as aspirin, Aleve or ibuprofen (but not Tylenol).
If you do not make progress on your own, it is important to seek help. Chiropractors, physical therapists, and acupuncturists have a good track record for helping patients recover from this painful condition.
For more information, contact Dr. Wendy at Haydenhealth@gmail.com.