The plantar fascia is the wide band of connective tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot, connecting your toes to your heel. It plays an important role in everyday life by supporting your arch and absorbing stress brought on by exercise and daily activities. When this fibrous tissue becomes irritated or inflamed, however, this painful foot condition known as plantar fasciitis may prevent you from doing the things you love, like jogging, taking a walk with your dog or simply moving around your house.
The good news is that most cases of plantar fasciitis heal on their own with simple, conservative treatment and at-home care.
Common Signs of Plantar Fasciitis
The best way to determine if your foot pain is plantar fasciitis is to talk to your podiatrist. In the meantime, here are four common warning signs of plantar fasciitis to look out for:
- Heel discomfort.
Discomfort on the bottom of your foot, especially near the heel, is one of the most tell-tale signs of plantar fasciitis. The pain may be dull, stabbing or burning. It is not uncommon for swelling of the heel to occur as well. Some people also experience discomfort in the arch of the foot.
- Pain that is worse in the morning.
Inflammation tends to increase during periods of rest, which is why many people with plantar fasciitis report severe pain when they first wake up in the morning and step out of bed. The same pain may occur after long periods of sitting. As the muscles and ligaments of the foot start to move and warm-up, symptoms usually decrease.
- Increased pain after exercise.
For many people with plantar fasciitis, the pain is less noticeable during physical activity. For example, you may have little to no discomfort while playing basketball, but experience pain when the game has ended and your feet have had time to rest.
- Decreased foot mobility.
You may have difficulty bending your foot back and forth without considerable pain and discomfort. In fact, many people with plantar fasciitis also report having a tight Achilles tendon.
Risk Factors for Plantar Fasciitis
Anyone can suffer from plantar fasciitis. However, some people are more prone to heel pain than others. You may be more likely to experience plantar fasciitis if:
- You regularly stand on your feet for extended periods of time
- You run long-distances regularly or are highly active
- You are overweight or obese
- You aren’t wearing comfortable, supportive shoes
- You have structural foot problems, such as very high arches or flat feet
Treating Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is common, but it is also highly treatable and preventable. The beginning stages of plantar fasciitis may resolve at home with simple measures, such as resting the foot, icing the heel, wearing appropriate shoes, stretching, losing weight or taking over-the-counter pain medication to manage pain and swelling.
If the pain continues or worsens, it is best to visit your podiatrist for an evaluation. Your doctor can recommend one or more of the following treatments based on their findings:
- Custom orthotics and supportive shoes
- Wearing night splints
- Cortisone injections
- Physical therapy
- Surgical treatment as a last resort
Plantar fasciitis is a painful, frustrating condition. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available to help you reduce your pain so that you can get back to the activities you love. Give our office a call today to schedule an appointment and learn about the best treatment option for you!