Plantar Fasciitis: A Common Cause of Heel Pain

Heel pain is one of the most common problems we see, and one of the most common reasons for it is a condition called plantar fasciitis. This overuse injury will not only interfere with the continuation of your exercise regimen, but if left untreated, can make even simple day-to-day activities difficult. Fortunately, there are ways you can ease painful symptoms and get back to your normal lifestyle and routine without pain in the bottom of your foot and heel holding you back.

What’s the problem?

Your plantar fascia is a fibrous band of tissues that spans your arch, connecting your heel to your toes. This band is responsible for supporting your arch and absorbing shock when you step, therefore, it endures a high amount of stress. When these stress levels become excessive, the tissues become strained and tiny tears occur, causing inflammation. This in turn, results in irritation, heel pain, and stiffness -- otherwise known as plantar fasciitis.

Plantar Fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain

Signature Symptoms

Pain in the heel from plantar fasciitis typically comes on gradually, and is worse directly following activity. Perhaps the most tell-tale sign, however, is the stabbing pain in the bottom of your heel when you first step out of bed in the morning. This is because the plantar fascia tightens at rest and then is suddenly stretched and strained when you try to walk, awakening the inflammation and injury, and certainly giving you a wakeup call as well! The tissues limber up after walking around a while, but don’t be fooled – the problem has not gone away. You will be sent another reminder when you take a step after an extended period of relaxation, finish up your workout, or try to go up stairs.

A Common Companion

Heel spurs often go hand-in-hand with plantar fasciitis, as the inflamed band of tissues pulls on the heel bone causing a hook-like calcification to form. Although the spur itself is not the source of pain, it can add to the problem.

Who is at risk?

This injury often occurs in athletes, especially runners, who have increased the intensity or duration of their workouts too quickly, doing too much too soon. Neglecting to supplement training with lower-impact activities to cut down on repetitive stress can also be to blame. Another common culprit is insufficiently warming up prior to activity. Sometimes, however, there are other contributors, such as being overweight or having high or flat arches that cause pronation problems and bad biomechanics, placing excessive pressure on the plantar fascia.

What can be done

The good news is that plantar fasciitis can be treated conservatively with a break in activities and some physical therapy exercises. Ice and anti-inflammatory medication will help ease pain and swelling as well. A good pair of shoes that offer plenty of cushion and support can do wonders, as can slipping some custom orthotics inside them. These devices provide additional comfort, redistribute weight to take pressure away from the area, and correct structural and biomechanical abnormalities. Non-invasive options, like MLS laser therapy or Tenex treatment, can be combined with these measures to accelerate recovery time. In severe cases where these methods are not enough to bring relief, plantar fasciitis surgery can be performed.

If you are experiencing heel pain, especially first thing in the morning, come see us so we can help you get back to pain-free days from start to finish! Call (303) 805-5156 to take care of your plantar fasciitis today.

Dr. Cynthia Oberholtzer-Classen, DPM
Founder and Owner of Podiatry Associates, PC