Some individuals are “morning” people. They wake up chipper and ready to attack the day. Others are not and might be a bit grumpy or require hitting the snooze button several times before they actually get out of bed. No matter which camp you find yourself in, you certainly don’t want to deal with sharp, stabbing pain in your heel as you take your first couple of steps. Plantar fasciitis is no one’s idea of a pleasant wake-up call.
Plantar Fasciitis Basics
The culprit behind this common condition that causes heel pain for so many individuals is the plantar fascia. This is a fibrous band of tissue that runs lengthwise along the bottom of your foot, connecting the heel bone (calcaneus) to the toes. The main function of this tissue is to support the foot arch.
The primary symptom of this condition is an intense stabbing pain felt in the bottom of your heel with the first steps of the day. This pain will typically go away after a while, but then return after prolonged periods of sitting or standing in one place.
Essentially, this is an overuse injury caused by excessive tension on the tissue. The tension causes small tears, and repeated tearing and stretching of the fascia leads to inflammation and irritation. The pain is so intense in the morning because the fascia spent all night starting to repair itself, but then it becomes torn again with those initial steps.
Treating Plantar Fasciitis
Conservative care is often quite effective in these cases. Medication, such as over-the-counter pain relievers we may recommend, can be used to ease the associated pain and inflammation. Strengthening exercises and stretching routines can provide symptom relief.
In rare situations, we might recommend surgical procedures if conservative care is not providing the desired results. When this is the only way to handle a particularly severe case, the plantar fascia is detached from the heel bone. This does lead to a weakened foot arch, so we do not advise the procedure unless absolutely necessary.
Preventing the Heel Pain
To prevent plantar fasciitis, the best approach you can take is to stretch often and keep the tissue limber. Effective stretches include:
- Standing with hands against a wall, one leg straight and behind you (foot planted flat on the ground), and the other leg in front and bent at the knee, move your hips forward slowly until you can feel a gentle stretch in the back leg calf muscles. Hold the position for 20-30 seconds, and then switch legs.
- Sit on the edge of your bed or in a comfortable chair, lift one of your feet off the ground, and pull gently back on your toes until you feel your arch being stretched. Hold for 15 seconds and then repeat with the other foot.
- Spread a towel out on the floor in front of a chair or the edge of your bed. With a bare foot, keep your heel on the ground, reach out, and grab the towel with your toes. Pull it back and under your foot and keep going until all of the towel has been pulled. Smooth the towel back out and repeat with your other foot.
Effective Heel and Arch Pain Care in Manalapan Township, NJ
Whether the pain in your heels is caused by plantar fasciitis, or some other condition, we are here to help. A Step Up Podiatry, LLC, is staffed with caring professionals who are dedicated to your health, so contact us by calling (732) 446-7136 or use our online form to schedule your appointment today.