Finding the Right Path for Plantar Fasciitis

It seems doctors have a name for everything—including a foot condition that results in morning heel pain. If you experience a sharp, stabbing pain under your heel or arch with you first steps after you get out of bed, you likely have what we call plantar fasciitis. The condition is a problem with the long, fan-shaped ligament band (fascia) that connects your heel bone to each of your toes.

Why Your Heel Hurts

Inflammation is an immediate response to irritation of this tissue, but that just happens at the beginning to fight off infection and start the healing process in the tissue. Long term problems usually occur because of degeneration in the plantar tissue (either a breakdown of some of the fibers or small tears in the ligament). These are often the result of increased physical stress on the feet, such as starting a new running program, beginning a job that requires much walking or standing, or even gaining a lot of weight.

Pain under your heel isn’t always plantar fasciitis.  It could also result from a thinning fat pad under the calcaneus, a stone bruise, a stress fracture, or other issues. The best way to determine what treatment is needed is to figure out exactly what is causing the discomfort in your heel, and that will probably mean a visit to our office.

However, if the pain is worst with your first steps of the day or after you have sat for a period of time, the indications are good that you have a problem with the plantar fascia. The tissue begins to repair itself while you are at rest, and then putting your weight on it damages it again.

Treating Plantar Heel Pain

The good news is that many times this pain is treatable with conservative methods, even if your x-ray shows a bone spur. These calcium deposits form at the point where the fascia attaches to the heel bone and may look scary on the x-ray, but we normally don’t need to do surgery to remove them.

We often start with treatment options such as resting from certain activity, finding more supportive shoes, and starting a stretching regimen. (Stretching your calf muscles, Achilles tendon, and fascia before getting out of bed in the morning can sometimes relieve the worst of the pain—we’ll show you how.)

For chronic cases where the pain stays around a while, custom orthotics are often successful. These shoe inserts are medical devices that we customize to your feet, to help rebalance the pressure and support the arch. In this way, the plantar fascia is not stretched beyond what it can bear and is able to heal again. Usually these nonsurgical treatments along with oral or injected pain relievers make it possible for you to function normally. If not, surgery is always a final option, but it is rarely needed.

Treating Your Feet Right in the South Bay

When you need help for your painful feet, contact Far West Podiatric Medical Group in Hawthorne, CA by calling (310) 675-0900 or filling out our contact form to request an appointment. Our staff of podiatrists are also highly trained surgeons, so no matter what treatment you need for your problem plantar fascia, we can provide it.

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