Since plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, it is likely to be the cause of the pain in the heel of your foot. Simply put, plantar fasciitis is the inflammation or injury to the plantar fascia. This ligament, or foot band of tissue, is responsible for connecting your heel to the bones of your toes. When this ligament is strained, it can cause pain and inflammation to the band of tissue and result in heel pain.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis
This type of foot pain is common in middle-aged people as well as those who have to stand, walk, or run on hard surfaces over long periods. People such as athletes, nurses, factory workers, soldiers, and others often suffer from plantar fasciitis. In addition, if you have high arches or tight calf muscles, you could also be susceptible to inflammation of the plantar fascia.
What are the Symptoms
The symptoms of plantar fasciitis include pain and stiffness in the bottom of your foot, primarily the heel. Any type of strain or injury to this band of tissues can cause weakness, swelling, inflammation or pain in the plantar fascia. It can occur in only one of both of your feet. Often the strain on the ligament is built up over years before symptoms are noticeable.
If you have plantar fasciitis you will probably notice the pain often in the morning, when you first wake up and start making the first steps of the day; bearing weight on your foot. You may also have symptoms of heel pain when you first get up after sitting for an extended period as well. Some people, on the other hand, may or may not have these symptoms. Your heel pain may occur after walking or standing for long periods, especially on a hard surface, or when climbing stairs. Unfortunately, some people with plantar fasciitis experience heel pain during all of these different types of activities.
What you Can Do to Reduce Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
Like most other medical conditions involving pain, no one treatment will work for every person. For this reason, you may have to try several different treatment options for plantar fasciitis before you find the one that works best for you. Some common ways people reduce their symptoms of pain include:
- Rest your feet as much as possible, especially after standing or walking for long periods of time
- Do activities that are known to cause heel pain in moderation, attempt to eliminate the source of excessive strain if possible
- Limit standing and walking, especially on hard surfaces, as much as possible
- Apply ice to painful and inflamed heels
- Take over-the-counter pain relieving medication
- Practice toe, calf, and towel stretches; especially in the morning before you get out of bed or before standing after sitting. Stand about 2 feet in front of a wall with your left foot on the floor in front of you. Lean on the wall with both hands and transfer your weight onto the forward leg which should now be bent. Make sure that your right heel stays on the floor and you should feel a good stretch in your right calf. Hold for about 30 seconds, switch legs and repeat the stretch. You can do this several times a day anywhere you have a wall handy. Stretching both calves should take about a minute – a very small investment.
- Buy a new pair of shoes. Shoe with arch support and cushioned heels are best
Typically, surgery is not required to treat plantar fasciitis unless all other treatment options have been exhausted. You should understand that most cases of plantar fasciitis are caused by years of wear and tear on the ligament and a complete recovery is often not feasible. You may notice that complete pain relief is not found, regardless of the treatments put into place. It could possibly take weeks or months before the pain is reduced enough to make a difference in your daily life. It is important that you stick to the treatment options you discussed with your doctor. You should contact your doctor if you feel like the treatments are not working. It will be at this time your doctor can discuss other methods to try, or discuss more intensive treatments for plantar fasciitis.
Your family care doctor can often diagnose plantar fasciitis, or he will refer you to a podiatrist or orthopedist. Pain in your feet that occurs primarily at night is likely not plantar fasciitis and is likely due to arthritis or tarsal tunnel syndrome. Notify your doctor immediately if you have fever associated with pain in your heel.
If you have a tendency to twist or sprain your ankle when you’re exercising, or even when you’re carrying out your day to day activities, then you may have a problem with the muscles in your lower leg.
Research has shown that people who sprain their ankles have less mobility in their ankle joints than people who don’t. Tight gastrocnemius and soleus muscles (found in the calf) make the ankle joint less flexible. Tight calf muscles can also lead to pain in your heel and the sole of your foot.
I developed heel and plantar pain (also known as planter fasciitis) few years ago after a summer of wearing very flat flip-flops with virtually no cushioning. Every evening for days the soles of my feet would be burning so bad that I was limping. Stretching my calf muscles has really helped with the pain as well as rolling my feet on a tennis ball..
Stretching is a great way to loosen and relax calf muscles. This quick stretch will make a big difference: