Our feet bear weight and stress daily, and with increased activity and lack of proper support, they are prone to inflammation and pain. One of the most common causes of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. Rebound physical therapist, Lisa Seitz, provides tips for managing heel pain from plantar fasciitis below.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a common condition that affects the ligament that runs along the bottom of the foot. This ligament, called the plantar fascia, provides support and connects the heel to the front of the foot.
“When excessive pressure or stress is placed on the plantar fascia, it becomes inflamed,” says Seitz. “While this strong band of tissues is intended to absorb stress, high amounts of stress over time can lead to plantar fasciitis, whether it’s a result of intense exercise, obesity or even a naturally high foot arch.”
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
A number of factors can play a role in the development of plantar fasciitis. Some of the most common include:
- Arch shape- people with flat feet or high arches
- Excessive high impact activity that places pressure on the feet
- Achilles tendon tightness or calf muscle tightness
- Sudden increase in activity
- Lack of proper footwear that supports foot type/arch shape
What are the Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
The most common and identifiable symptom of plantar fasciitis is heel pain. You may also feel pain in your arch.
“Many patients experience stiffness or sharp, shooting pains,” says Seitz. “This pain can come and go throughout the day, and is usually the strongest after activity or first thing in the morning.”
How Can You Manage Heel Pain from Plantar Fasciitis?
“Luckily, many patients are able to find relief from plantar fasciitis without surgery,” says Seitz.
There are many steps you can take to better support your feet, decrease pain and minimize aggravation of the ligament and muscles that interact with the ligament.
“Some initial measures for managing heel pain from plantar fasciitis can even be done very simply from home,” says Seitz.
Initial Tips for Managing Heel Pain:
- Rest– try to limit your activity, especially physical activity that puts pressure on your heel/foot
- Ice– ice therapy in 20-minute increments will help reduce the inflammation and pain.
- Support your feet– avoid going barefoot and wear shoes with ample arch support and heel support. Walking barefoot or wearing shoes without proper support will aggravate the condition, placing more stress on the plantar fascia.
- Stretch– stretching the muscles in your feet and calves is a trusted method for relieving pain from plantar fasciitis
- Anti-inflammatory medication– one of our physicians may recommend medication to help with inflammation
“When these simple steps do not provide relief, we would recommend visiting with a member of our foot and ankle team,” says Seitz.
Like with many foot conditions, plantar fasciitis is manageable when treated in a timely manner. If left untreated, it may develop into a chronic condition, leading to knee, hip and back issues.
Next Steps for Managing Heel Pain:
- Orthotics– orthotics for the arch or heel can reduce the stress placed on the plantar fascia while providing comfort
- Night splints– night splints relax and stretch the plantar fascia while you sleep, minimizing the likelihood of pain upon waking
- Cortisone injections– this steroid treatment may be recommended depending on the severity of the condition
- Physical therapy– when stretches like the ones listed above do not improve your condition, it may be beneficial to work with a Rebound physical therapist
- Walking cast or brace– either of these methods may speed your recovery by immobilizing your foot and allowing it to heal
“Although it is not common, if your heel pain continues after taking these measures, one of our foot and ankle specialists may recommend surgery,” says Seitz.
Rebound Foot/Heel Resources:
Other Trusted Heel Pain Resources: