Each year, over 3 million Americans report symptoms of plantar fasciitis (plan-tur fas-e-I-tis)—a common orthopaedic injury recognizable by biting heel pain that peaks in the morning. Once referred to as “policeman’s heel,” plantar fasciitis has numerous causes and risk factors and can lead to chronic pain if left untreated.
The good news is that plantar fasciitis is easier to understand than it is to pronounce. Knowing the contributing factors, symptoms, and treatment options can help you distinguish ordinary heel pain from its more serious cousin.
The team at Alabama Orthopaedic Surgeons wants to help you better understand the details surrounding this painful condition so you can identify it and seek treatment for it when it strikes. Here’s what our pros want you to know about plantar fasciitis:
What is it?
Following the arch of your feet is a band of tissue connecting your toes to your heel. This band (called the plantar fascia) serves as a kind of shock absorber as you stand, walk, or exercise.
Overexertion of the tissue can cause tears and swelling followed by pain. Even so, pain from plantar fasciitis typically follows a noticeable schedule.
What are the symptoms?
Pain from plantar fasciitis tends to peak in the morning, but pain can occur when standing after long periods of sitting or vice versa—after long periods standing.
Discomfort may dissipate during exercise (making identification more difficult) though the pain usually returns not long after. Some forms of exercise may even have caused your plantar fasciitis, so it’s important to take note of when and how the pain starts, stops, or returns.
What are the causes?
Because stress to the tissue causes tears and inflammation—leading to regular pain—the source of stress itself is usually the culprit. For other patients, foot shape or walking pattern may be the primary cause.
If you have an unusually high arch in your foot or, to the contrary, unusually flat feet, the odd distribution of weight during movement may lead to symptoms. Age is also a major factor. Most cases of plantar fasciitis occur in patients between 40 and 60 years of age.
Activities that place greater stress on your heel—such as running or jogging (especially long distance)—can contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis. Weight, too, can have a serious impact. Obesity puts progressively more stress on your feet and can hasten inflammation of the tissue.
These factors run a risk of combining if you work long hours on your feet. It’s easy to see why this is one of the most common annual orthopaedic injuries in the nation.
How is it treated?
Thankfully, treatments for plantar fasciitis are numerous. Giving your feet some assistance by purchasing more supportive shoes or shoe inserts is a good start.
You may also consider icing the affected area during moments of pain and swelling or even wearing splints at night. If you notice a correlation between heel pain and exercise, you may consider abstaining from that particular activity until symptoms abate.
While over-the-counter pharmaceutical relief exists, you should always consult with your physician before starting a regimen of non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs. In the worst cases of plantar fasciitis, some physical therapy may be necessary.
Relief on the Horizon
Plantar fasciitis may be common in the United States, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous. As always, a diagnosis should only be made by a trusted physician before the best course of treatment can be determined.
The professionals at Alabama Orthopaedic Surgeons know how inconvenient and aggravating frequent heel pain can be. For more information or treatment options, call 205-838-4747 or make an appointment by clicking here today.