Every day I watched as my sister lived with her foot pain, sighing more and more often from the discomfort caused by pain. It’s no surprise that when you have heel or foot pain, the joy drains out of every activity because it keeps you from being the active person you once were. Once the reoccurring pain was too much to bear, she finally made an appointment with a Podiatrist (medical professional devoted to the treatment of disorders of the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg) for a professional opinion and solution. Her diagnosis was the first time we had ever heard of Plantar Fasciitis.
Plantar Fasciitis is a condition that happens when small tears form along the plantar fascia (the band of tissue that supports the arch of the foot) which causes swelling, pain, and inflammation of the heel and perifascial structures. This is the most common heel and foot pain and affects close to 2 million people. A diagnosis can be done by a medical professional through a physical examination, a look at your medical history or an X-ray image of the injured foot.
Usually, the pain occurs in the morning with your first step of the day or with long periods of standing. The pain gradually increases and is usually centered by the heel or bottom of the foot. Hopkins Medicine says the pain may also appear more intense in bare feet or in shoes with minimal support.
The structure of the foot has a big influence in this issue. If you aren’t wearing the right shoes to fit your arch and give the support your foot needs, you strain the perifascial structures causing the pain. Other causes can be an increase in your activity level, your weight, the surface you walk on or occupations that keep you standing for long periods of time.
Most patients with this condition recover in several months with the combination of treatments and or modifying activities that could cause strain on the feet. Mayoclinic.org states the most common treatment is the combination of medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) with physical therapy, night splints, orthotics, and or shock wave therapy to ease the pain and inflammation. If the pain does not alleviate itself, there are other invasive measures such as steroid injections that can decrease the inflammation and pain. Surgery is usually not needed but in serious cases a Gastrocnemius Recession, which lengthens the muscle and tendon, can help lessen the pain.
Don’t let foot issues keep you from staying active. Check out our group exercise class "Sit and Strength", where you are able to sit while you strengthen your body with weights and bands, a great way to help your body without any impact on your feet. Talk to a membership coordinator about membership options and take a look at other available group exercise classes.
Plantar Heel Pain - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)
Plantar Fasciitis | Johns Hopkins Medicine Plantar Fasciitis and Bone Spurs - OrthoInfo - AAOS
Plantar fasciitis - Diagnosis and treatment - Mayo Clinic