Understanding Plantar Fasciitis

When you wake up to a sharp pain running through your heel, it makes for an unpleasant way to start your day. The odds are pretty good that you already have enough to deal with in the morning—having to get out of a warm and comfy bed, making sure the kids are ready for school, a brutal commute to work—and you really do not need intense foot pain on top of all that. So if your first steps in the morning are difficult ones marked with a sharp pain, it’s important to know what plantar fasciitis is, why it happens, and what you can do about it with help from Shenandoah Podiatry.

Plantar Fascia Problems

The plantar fascia is a tough, fibrous band of tissue that acts like a bowstring across your foot, supporting the arch by connecting the heel bone to the base of your toes. When the tension is too great, small tears are created in the tissue, causing it to become inflamed or irritated, especially with repetitive use.

Some people are at greater risk than others for developing plantar fasciitis. Contributing factors to this condition include age, obesity, and foot mechanics. People who fall in the 40-60 age range are more susceptible than those who are younger. Overweight individuals place extra stress upon the plantar fascia and this leads to an increased likelihood of the problem as well.

A Hurting Heel

The primary symptom of plantar fasciitis is a strong, sharp pain, particularly evident in the heel. This is typically most painful first thing in the morning, but may also be experienced following exercise or after long periods of standing or sitting, since the band of tissues tightens while at rest. A change in physical activity or long distance running can also bring about the onset of this condition.

Stretch it Out

Plantar fasciitis is typically treated with conservative methods, mainly physical therapy exercises involving stretching and strengthening activities. Additionally, we may prescribe orthotics shoe inserts that can help to distribute pressure more evenly across your feet. These conservative methods of treatment have a high success rate and may be supplemented with an icing routine (consisting of two or three 15-minutes sessions a day) and anti-inflammatory medication in order to alleviate your pain.

Such conservative methods work in most instances, but there is a chance that additional measures will need to be taken. These include steroid shots and surgery. Steroid shots are primarily used in moderation to provide temporary pain relief. Surgery is an option for severe pain that is simply not responding to any of the other treatments.

If you wake up in the morning with a sharp pain in your heel, schedule an appointment with Shenandoah Podiatry today to receive a professional diagnosis. The phone number for our Roanoke, VA, office can be reached at (540) 904-1458. Call us if you have any questions or if you need to see Dr. Jennifer Keller to help with any foot and ankle problems you are experiencing.