Heel pain is a symptom, not a condition. Many different conditions and factors can cause it. However, one diagnosis in particular tends to stand out above the rest: plantar fasciitis.
The most common cause of heel pain in adults, plantar fasciitis afflicts millions of Americans each year. And while some cases may go away in time on their own with a little rest and stretching, others can linger for a long time.
If pain on the underside of the heel just won’t go away or starts impairing your ability to work, play, or enjoy life, it’s time to get help from the Community Foot Clinic of McPherson
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is painful inflammation of the plantar fascia tissue, particularly near the underside of the heel.
Your plantar fascia is a thick and tough band of fibrous connective tissue—specifically, a ligament—that runs all the way across the bottom of your foot. It stretches from the front of the heel bone to the toes. Its primary job is to support the foot arches and act as a cushioning “shock absorber.”
Unfortunately, the plantar fascia can get overstretched, injured, and torn due to wear and tear from standing, sports, work, and other daily activities. When this happens, painful plantar fasciitis is the result.
What Are the Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
Although the plantar fascia itself stretches all the way to the toes, plantar fascia injuries are most common along the underside of the heel, where the ligament inserts into the heel bone.
The pain of plantar fasciitis is often worst after a lengthy break—for example, first thing in the morning after getting out of bed, or getting up after watching a movie or reading a book. The fascia tends to contract when not bearing weight, so those first few footsteps can feel like stabs. After a few minutes, the fascia slowly relaxes and elongates, dulling the pain.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
There is no single cause of plantar fasciitis, other than general wear and tear on the feet. Often, several different factors contribute to wear and tear on the plantar fascia ligament over time.
These may include:
- Hobbies or occupations that involve a lot of standing, walking, running, or jumping.
- Structural foot flaws, such as flat feet.
- Wearing shoes that don’t fit, are in poor condition, or are poorly designed for your activity (or all of the above).
- Aging—plantar fasciitis is more common in adults over 40.
- Obesity—the heavier you are, the greater the strain on your feet with each step.
How is Plantar Fasciitis Treated?
We’ll start with the good news—plantar fasciitis can almost always be treated successfully using non-invasive tactics. Less than five percent of cases would ever require surgery, especially because we now have access to advanced MLS laser therapy. More on that a few paragraphs down.
If you’re only experiencing mild and temporary pain, you may attempt home care on your own. REST therapy—rest, ice, compression, and elevation—is a tried-and-true strategy that can help you deal with pain and swelling and give your damaged tissues a chance to repair themselves.
Also, make sure you are wearing good, comfortable shoes with adequate cushioning and support. No heels!
If pain is more severe, lasts longer, or starts to impede on daily activities, you should make an appointment to see us as soon as you can. We’ll help you put together a treatment plan appropriate for your condition and lifestyle, which may include components such as:
- Physical therapy exercises stretches
- Cortisone injections
- Strapping the heel
- Wearing night splints to keep the plantar fascia elongated when you sleep
- Custom orthotics
If traditional treatments have not been effective—or you simply want to get better as quickly as possible—we offer MLS laser therapy as well. This is an incredible new treatment option and alternative to surgery that is highly effective for cases of plantar fasciitis. The laser is free of any pain or side effects, and uses the energy of focused beams of light to stimulate healing, tissue repair, and anti-inflammatory responses in damaged tissue.
If you’re suffering from heel pain—whether you suspect plantar fasciitis, or something else—please give us a call today. We’re here to help restore your feet so that you can go back to living the way you want, when you want, without pain. Dial (620) 241-3313 to schedule.