Walking Through Fire: Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms and Treatment

Imagine waking up in the morning. You roll over to turn off your alarm clock, throw off the covers, stretch, and sit up, but just as your set your feet on the floor, pain like fire spreads from your heels and across your feet. That’s the experience of many Americans living with plantar fasciitis. A condition so common that the American Academy of Family Physicians estimates that one in 10 people will experience plantar fasciitis in their lifetime. The good news is that roughly 80 percent of patients improve within 12 months of treatment.

Symptoms and Causes

Plantar fasciitis is heel pain that can extend into the arch of the foot. This pain is often worst when you get up in the morning, at the end of a long day, or after some form of activity. Plantar fasciitis occurs when your plantar fascia (a ligament in the foot that connects your heel bone to the base of your toes) is damaged or torn, causing inflammation and pain. When you sleep, your plantar fascia naturally shortens and when you take those first few steps in the morning, it creates a sudden tension in the ligament, causing pain and discomfort.

Plantar fasciitis is considered an overuse syndrome, meaning that it is typically caused by increased workload on the feet. Starting a new job that requires you to be on your feet all day, a sudden weight gain or even pregnancy can increase the workload on your feet and lead to plantar fasciitis. Those with plantar fasciitis describe soreness on the bottom of the heels, which can impact a person’s mobility in a number of ways.

Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis

Treatment for plantar fasciitis is a combination of physical and medical therapy. For most, treatment begins with finding support for the arch of the foot, which can be achieved through the use of orthotics. Simply decreasing the amount of time spent on your feet or the intensity of your activity could improve your condition. Different stretches for the calf, night splints, and applying ice can also help relieve symptoms and increase function. Some patients with plantar fasciitis have had success recovering from plantar fasciitis from home with stretches and over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or Aleve to combat pain and inflammation; however, some require the help of a physician or physical therapist.

If you’re experiencing difficulty treating your plantar fasciitis from home, it may be time to consult a physician. Orthotics can be very helpful for those suffering from plantar fasciitis, but it can be challenging to navigate the different brands and kinds of orthotic materials on the market. A physician can advise you on orthotics that are well suited to your foot type and provide you with the effective support you need without breaking the bank.

Orthotics and stretching are the two key elements for treatment, but some patients with plantar fasciitis require additional measures. For those who experience extreme pain associated with their plantar fasciitis, have had their plantar fasciitis for a long time, or repeatedly experience plantar fasciitis flare-ups, medication like an oral steroid or steroid injection can be considered.

“I usually tell patients that medications are a more short-term treatment, and the stretching and orthotics are more of a long-term solution,” said Foot and Ankle Surgeon, Zachary Rasor, DPM, FACFAS of TPMG Foot and Ankle in Virginia Beach. Plantar fasciitis can recur without warning and persist for months without proper treatment. The best way to prevent future recurrence is to continue stretching your feet and calves (especially before vigorous exercise) and maintaining support for your feet with proper footwear and orthotics.

While not life-threatening, plantar fasciitis can be extremely painful and greatly impact your quality of life. Ignoring the pain can often worsen your symptoms and in extreme cases lead to a rupture of the plantar fascia. If you’re experiencing pain or inflammation due to plantar fasciitis, don’t delay. Talk to a TPMG provider today and find lasting relief.

zachary rasor

About Zachary Rasor, DPM, FACFAS

Zachary Rasor, DPM, FACFAS is a board certified Foot and Ankle surgeon with TPMG Foot and Ankle in Virginia Beach. Through creativity and attention to detail, Dr. Rasor enjoys treating a variety of pathologies found in the foot and ankle. Through his treatment, he can improve mobility and reduce pain, thus restoring a patient’s quality of life. As a foot and ankle specialist in Virginia Beach, Dr. Rasor treats a variety of lower extremity conditions including severe fractures, chronic deformities, including Charcot, arthritis and tendonitis, ulcers, and ingrown nails.

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