The number one most common foot complaint is heel pain. While it is extremely common and you may have heard someone say they have experienced ‘plantar fasciitis', it is important to visit a podiatrist to rule out more serious problems. Problems including stress fractures, arthritis, nerve irritation, tendonitis, or rare cystic changes can all disguise themselves as plantar fasciitis and require different interventions.
The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that connects from your heel bone to the ‘ball' of your foot. It is more prominent in some individuals, and you may actually see it by examining the bottom of your foot while pulling your toes up towards your nose. The term ‘-itis' refers to inflammation. Because of the thick skin on the bottom of your foot, you may not visualize the redness and swelling associated with inflammation. You may notice it is most painful in the morning on your first steps out of bed. As you lay in bed at night, the fascia becomes tight as it heals. Those first steps are painful as it stretches out again. You may also be wearing sandals more often and for longer periods. This footwear frequently lacks any type of support. Without support in your shoes, the arch of your foot may flatten, further pulling, stressing, and irritating the plantar fascia where it sticks to the bone.
There are several approaches to treating this problem once it is identified. Treatments for plantar fasciitis can include taping, stretching, orthotic inserts, cortisone shots, physical therapy, and, when all other options have been exhausted, surgery. Don't ignore that pain in your heel. The sooner you seek treatment, often the better the resolution or outcome.
Until next time, keep those feet happy and healthy Austin!