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Sunday, June 16, 2024

3 Signs Your Heel Pain May Be Plantar Fasciitis

Foot pain can happen now and then, affecting individuals from all age groups. The root cause of foot pain can range from various causes such as injury or specific internal conditions affecting any of the components of the foot structure. If the site of the pain originates in the heel region, one of the usual causes may be plantar fasciitis. Among adults, the heel pain that plantar fasciitis brings is a common complaint at some point in their lives. 

A Closer Look At Plantar Fasciitis

The foot comprises up to 28 bones, along with the joints, tendons, muscles, and ligaments. Consider the foot a highly complex structure, but most frequently take it for granted by putting it through strenuous physical activities.

Among the various structures in the foot, the plantar fascia is a highly durable tissue band running throughout the bottom part of your foot, starting from the heel area to your toes. The plantar fascia plays an important role since it supports the foot arch by absorbing the pressure your foot endures throughout the day while bearing your weight simultaneously. Once the tissues end up inflamed or partly or fully torn, the pain will surely arise.

Once the plantar fascia is damaged or inflamed, you’ll experience foot pain localized in the heel area. In some cases, the pain can manifest in other areas on the base of your foot. If the pain is extreme enough to interrupt your usual routine, you’ll need timely treatment for your heel to prevent it from worsening. For instance, if the discomfort and pain cause difficulty walking and running, reduced activity level and range of motion, and increased risk of injury, you must see a doctor to get a diagnosis and treatment plan. 

Also, it’s essential to know that the cause of plantar fasciitis remains vague and poorly understood even today, but it’s more likely to affect runners and overweight individuals. Hence, if you’re one of them, you’re more likely at risk of developing plantar fasciitis.

Who Is At Risk For Plantar Fasciitis?

Although plantar fasciitis may develop without an evident cause, some factors can increase your risk. Some of the common risk factors that you should be familiar with include:

  • Age and Gender: The foot condition is likely to develop among individuals between 40 and 60. Both men and women are likely to develop the condition, but it is more common among women.
  • Physical Activity: Certain types of exercise or physical activity, particularly those that place significant stress on the foot, such as aerobic dancing, long-distance running, and even ballet dancing, can increase the risk. There’s a higher incidence of the condition among runners.
  • Gait: The foot mechanics also play a role since having flat feet, an elevated arch, or any irregular walking pattern can affect the weight distribution on your foot. A person who overpronates in which the feet roll inward on the arches or has flat feet is at higher risk since the entire soles touch the ground while standing. As for those with high arches, it places high pressure on the heel and ball of the foot while walking or standing. Additionally, a person with an unusual walking or running gait is likely to increase the pressure and tension on the plantar fascia, causing irritation and even damage in chronic cases.
  • Being Overweight: Being overweight or obese places additional stress on your foot. When a person has excess weight, it can put the plantar fascia at risk for damage, reducing its capability to absorb shock, which triggers heel pain.
  • Long Hours of Standing: Certain occupations requiring long hours of standing, such as factory workers and teachers, face a higher risk of developing plantar fasciitis. Any job that involves spending most of the working hours standing or walking on hard surfaces places significant strain on the feet. 
  • Wearing the Incorrect Footwear: An ill-fitting shoe cannot adequately support the foot. Changing to more supportive footwear can help reduce your risk of developing the condition. If running is one of the components of your daily workout routine, your running shoes will wear out over time, especially the shock absorption capability. Once you’re no longer comfortable with your shoes, consider replacing them with a new pair to help lessen the discomfort.

Additionally, a person diagnosed with diabetes is more likely to develop plantar fasciitis. The reason is due to the presence of other co-morbidities such as a sedentary lifestyle and obesity. As stated earlier, the excess weight of an overweight or obese individual places significant strain on the feet over time.

Indications That Heel Pain May Be Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis

Aside from the heel pain, plantar fasciitis can also trigger other symptoms such as stiffness, swelling, and tenderness on the site. Developing the condition can put you on the sidelines, disrupting your usual routine and preventing you from enjoying an active lifestyle.

Once you start to experience heel pain, it can be due to various causes. However, you likely have plantar fasciitis if the following apply to your case.

  • Experiencing Foot Pain Upon Waking Up In The Morning 

The sensation of stabbing pain once you get out of bed in the morning is one of the clear indications that you have plantar fasciitis. Remember that when you have plantar fasciitis, the affected tissue that becomes inflamed turns stiff while you sleep. Unfortunately, it can make your first few steps out of bed painful.

In most cases, the discomfort subsides and may even vanish entirely after moving around for some time. However, in most cases, the pain is expected to recur and can make walking a painful ordeal, especially after prolonged periods of standing or sitting without any other movement.

  • Following A Regular Running Workout 

Among runners, plantar fasciitis is a typical concern. If you regularly engage in running as part of your workout routine, the activity can place significant stress on the heel and adjacent tissues. Engaging in the activity continuously for a week without taking breaks can risk damaging the plantar fascia.

In most cases, a person is unlikely to notice the discomfort during activity, but it gradually manifests as the body starts to slow down. Other activities that can add extra strain on the heel region include dancing and workouts involving strenuous jumping routines. 

  • Having Flat Feet Or High Arches 

The likelihood of developing plantar fasciitis typically stems from your foot structure and how you walk, which can place stress on the plantar fascia with every step you take. When a person has high arches or flat feet, it brings about changes in how the feet support the body weight. Remember that both conditions can place extra stress on the plantar fascia. 

If you’ve been wearing flat shoes or those that lack adequate support most of the time, the likelihood of developing the condition is higher, even if you have an average arch. Generally, a healthcare professional is likely to suggest using shoe inserts or customized orthotics, which work by evenly distributing your weight. It’s one way to lessen the pressure on the plantar fascia. 

Diagnosing Plantar Fasciitis 

The stabbing-like discomfort you experience upon waking up in the morning is one of the clear indications that you have plantar fasciitis. If the foot pain persists for several weeks, consult a healthcare professional, preferably a podiatrist, to determine the underlying cause. Plantar fasciitis can be distinguished from other similar foot conditions based on your medical history and your doctor’s findings during the physical examination.

During your appointment, the doctor will inquire about the pain and other symptoms you experience. It later involves examining the affected foot to rule out other conditions that trigger heel pain. In most cases, the doctor will request diagnostic tests such as an X-ray to confirm that you don’t have a fracture or something else that triggers the discomfort.

In previous years, heel spurs were often believed to be the root cause of heel pain. Although it’s common, heel spurs form as a response to the pulling forces or traction from the plantar fascia and other foot components. Remember that heel spurs don’t typically trigger discomfort, and a large-sized heel spur requiring surgical intervention is considered rare.

Management Of Plantar Fasciitis  

Most plantar fasciitis cases require a straightforward management regimen, such as taking a break from the activity and applying ice. The treatment plan would also include over-the-counter pain medications such as naproxen and ibuprofen to lessen the pain and inflammation the condition brings. Additionally, shoe inserts or orthotics will play an important role in providing support and reducing the pressure on the affected foot to lessen the pain briefly.

As part of the treatment to hasten recovery and prevent potential complications, the doctor will recommend stretching and strengthening exercises. When you perform these exercises regularly, it can prevent weakness or tightness of the other foot muscles. If you want the best outcome, working with a physical therapist can guide you in effectively performing the right stretching techniques to loosen the plantar fascia along with exercises to strengthen the lower leg muscles.

During this period, keeping the weight and stress off the affected foot is crucial. In most circumstances, various adjustments will help promote healing, such as switching to a more shock-absorbing surface during exercise, applying athletic tape to your foot for support, reducing the duration or distance of running, and switching to a less intense workout routine. These activity modifications may work best, especially for those who want to continue their workout routines.

A dorsal night splint may be another treatment option to hasten your recovery from plantar fasciitis. The splint is specially designed to be used at night to ensure the ankle is propped up to stretch the plantar fascia while sleeping. However, some might find the splint uncomfortable during sleep which is why some prefer to use it hours before sleep. 

Consider ways to lose excess weight for individuals who are overweight or obese. It might be time to start a suitable fitness program that’ll not place further pressure on your feet. Doing so can bring several health benefits and help reduce the pressure on your heel. 

The doctor might suggest an invasive approach in severe plantar fasciitis cases where the pain lingers for several months despite the conventional treatment options. Some invasive treatment options for a severe case typically include steroid shots, ultrasonic tissue repair, extracorporeal shockwave therapy, and even surgery. 

Several studies have been carried out over the years to increase the efficacy of minimally invasive plantar fasciitis treatment options, especially in cases when the symptoms persist even after ice application, rest, and physical therapy. Although a corticosteroid shot is becoming the preferred option in such instances, newer treatment options are now equally effective with minimal risk for potential complications. 

One treatment option, namely autologous platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP), which involves the injection of the patient’s platelets to hasten recovery, was discovered in one study to be a safer yet effective option than corticosteroid injections.

Generally, PRP therapy is a minimally invasive procedure that an individual can use to treat plantar fasciitis. The platelet-rich plasma is rich in proteins that promote cell growth and healing. As such, PRP therapy can provide many benefits, such as reducing inflammation, stimulating tissue repair, and speeding up recovery.  

Therefore, if you consider this treatment for plantar fasciitis, it’s best to talk to your doctor to know whether it’s right for you. If it is, think about getting good quality PRP kits from a reliable provider like Selphyl. This way, you can experience the healing benefits of platelet-rich plasma therapy.  

How Long Will Plantar Fasciitis Last?

After developing plantar fasciitis, the foot condition is likely to last anywhere from three to 12 months until it eventually subsides. Remember, though, that the rate of healing will vary on your activity level and how consistent you are in following the at-home treatments that your doctor recommends. The inflammation’s severity, age, and overall health may also impact how long your plantar fasciitis will last.

However, if your current treatment regimen doesn’t seem to provide relief to the heel pain, consulting a specialist is the best decision you’ll make. Doing so will help determine if you have other possible injuries like foot fractures and recommend suitable therapies that can hasten recovery.

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Preventive Measures 

Luckily, there are various steps you should take to prevent plantar fasciitis from developing in the first place. The initial approach is to find ways to limit the potential risk factors for the condition, such as:

  • Wear the right footwear that adequately provides support to the arch and cushions the heel. Runners should replace their shoes every three to four months because the materials in the shoes eventually deteriorate, reducing shock absorption and increasing pressure on your heels.
  • Warm up properly before exercising or engaging in physical activity, particularly stretching the calf muscles. When you have tight calf muscles, it can put you at risk for plantar fasciitis. Regularly stretching the calves is the best preventive measure, ideally before and after exercise. 
  • Keep a balanced weight to reduce the pressure on your heels. 
  • Gradually increase the intensity of your running or other high-intensity activity.
  • If you need to stand for long periods, take some breaks to stretch your feet and walk around.
  • Get enough rest to help reduce pain and inflammation in your heel. 
  • Apply ice to your feet for at least 20 minutes to ease pain and inflammation.  
  • Wear a night splint to help keep your plantar fascia stretched while sleeping.

It may be best to consult a physical therapist for those who previously had the condition. Doing so will assist you in pinpointing whether you have any mobility or muscular weakening issues that could lead to a recurrence of the foot condition. When you experience immobility or weakening of the ankle and hip areas, they’re likely to become contributing factors that alter how the foot functions as you perform your daily activities.

Final Thoughts 

Plantar fasciitis is a common foot condition among adults. When you’re within the 40 to 60 age group with a job that involves prolonged periods of standing or walking and taking part in strenuous physical activities, it can put you at risk for developing the condition. Although other possible conditions can trigger foot pain at some point, the discomfort that arises first thing in the morning clearly indicates that you have plantar fasciitis. If you think you may have plantar fasciitis, see a doctor as soon as possible for a clear diagnosis and to begin treatment to ensure a quick recovery.

HBC Editors
HBC Editorshttp://www.healthcarebusinessclub.com
HBC editors are a group of healthcare business professionals from diversified backgrounds. At HBC, we present the latest business news, tips, trending topics, interviews in healthcare business field, HBC editors are expanding day by day to cover most of the topics in the middle east and Africa, and other international regions.

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