Heel pain is a common foot condition. It's usually felt as an intense pain when using the affected heel. Heel pain usually builds up gradually and gets worse over time. The pain is often severe and
occurs when you place weight on the heel. In most cases, only one heel is affected, although estimates suggest that around a third of people have pain in both heels. The pain is usually worse first
thing in the morning, or when you first take a step after a period of inactivity. Walking usually improves the pain, but it often gets worse again after walking or standing for a long time. Some
people may limp or develop an abnormal walking style as they try to avoid placing weight on the affected heel.
Plantar Fasciitis is frequently cited as the number one cause of heel pain. The condition affects both children and adults. Children typically outgrow the problem, but affected adults may experience
recurring symptoms over the course of many months or years. The syndrome afflicts both highly active and sedentary individuals. Typically, Plantar Fasciitis results from a combination of causes,
including, pronation, a condition in which the plantar fascia doesn't transfer weight evenly from the heel to the ball of the foot when you walk. Overuse of the feet without adequate periods of rest.
High arches, flat feet or tightness in the Achilles' tendon at the back of the heel. Obesity. Working conditions that involve long hours spent standing or lifting heavy objects. Worn or ill-fitting
footwear. The normal aging process, which can result in a loss of soft tissue elasticity. Physical trauma to the foot, as in the case of taking a fall or being involved in a car accident.
If you have Plantar Fasciitis, you will most likely feel a sharp pain under the ball of you heel and it will often give pain when standing after a period of rest. For example when you get out of bed
in the mornings or after being sat down. Some patients describe this feeling as a stone bruise sensation, or a pebble in the shoe and at times the pain can be excruciating. Patients with Plantar
Fasciitis can experience pain free periods whereby the think they are on the mend, only for the heel pain to come back aggressively when they appear to have done nothing wrong. If your plantar
fasciitis came on very suddenly and the pain is relentless, then you may have Plantar Fascial Tears. We will be able to differentiate between these 2 conditions, sometimes with ultra sound imaging.
The treatment for each of these conditions will need to be very different.
Plantar fasciitis is one of many conditions causing "heel pain". Some other possible causes include nerve compression either in the foot or in the back, stress fracture of the calcaneus, and loss of
the fatty tissue pad under the heel. Plantar fasciitis can be distinguished from these and other conditions based on a history and examination done by a physician. It should be noted that heel spurs
are often inappropriately thought to be the sole cause of heel pain. In fact, heel spurs are common and are nothing more than the bone's response to traction or pulling-type forces from the plantar
fascia and other muscles in the foot where they attach to the heel bone. They are commonly present in patients without pain, and frequently absent from those who have pain. It is the rare patient who
has a truly enlarged and problematic spur requiring surgery.
Non Surgical Treatment
Many types of treatment have been used to combat plantar fasciitis, including injections, anti-inflammatory medications, orthotics, taping, manipulation, night splinting, and instrument-assisted
soft-tissue manipulation (IASTM). IASTM begins with heat, followed by stretching. Stretching may be enhanced by applying ice to the plantar fascia. These stretches should be performed several times
per day, with the calf in the stretched position. IASTM uses stainless-steel instruments to effectively access small areas of the foot. IASTM is believed to cause a secondary trauma to injured soft
tissues as part of the healing process. Therapeutic modalities such as low-level laser, ultrasound, and electrical muscular stimulation may be effective in the reduction of pain and inflammation. Low
Dye strapping or taping of the foot is an essential part of successful treatment of plantar fasciitis. Extracorporeal shock-wave therapy (ESWT) was introduced with great promise at one time. Recent
studies have reported less favorable results. Some report no effect. Previous local steroid injection may actually have a negative effect on results from ESWT.
The most common surgical procedure for plantar fasciitis is plantar fascia release. It involves surgical removal of a part from the plantar fascia ligament which will relieve the inflammation and
reduce the tension. Plantar fascia release is either an open surgery or endoscopic surgery (insertion of special surgical instruments through small incisions). While both methods are performed under
local anesthesia the open procedure may take more time to recover. Other surgical procedures can be used as well but they are rarely an option. Complications of plantar fasciitis surgery are rare but
they are not impossible. All types of plantar fasciitis surgery pose a risk of infection, nerve damage, and anesthesia related complications including systemic toxicity, and persistence or worsening
of heel pain.
More than with most sports injuries, a little bit of prevention can go a long way toward keeping you free from plantar fasciitis. Here are some tips to follow. Wear supportive shoes that fit you
well. When your shoes start to show wear and can no longer give your feet the support they need, it's time to get a new pair. Runners should stop using their old shoes after about 500 miles of use.
Have a trained professional at a specialty running store help you find the right pair for your foot type, and then keep your shoes tied and snug when you wear them. Stay in good shape. By keeping
your weight in check, you'll reduce the amount of stress on your feet. Stretch your calves and feet before you exercise or play a sport. Ask an athletic trainer or sports medicine specialist to show
you some dynamic stretching exercises. Start any new activity or exercise slowly and increase the duration and intensity of the activity gradually. Don't go out and try to run 10 miles the first time
you go for a jog. Build up to that level of exercise gradually. Talk to your doctor about getting heel pads, custom shoe inserts, or orthotics to put in your shoes. Foot supports can help cushion
your feet and distribute your weight more evenly. This is especially true for people with high arches or flat feet. Your doctor will be able to tell you if shoe inserts and supports might lower your
chances of heel injury.