It’s a New Year – Time to Take Care of Your Plantar Fasciitis!
We tend to see the start of a new year as an opportunity to make a difference in our lives. Many people set a new goal, try a new activity, or make a change.
Nobody wants to hop out of bed, ready to pursue their dreams, and get hit with a sharp, stabbing pain in their heels!
If you have been suffering from consistent heel pain (due to plantar fasciitis), we highly recommend getting off on the right foot this year by properly addressing the problem.
Many people choose not to take effective action against the heel pain they endure on a daily basis. Perhaps they have tried one or two remedies that provided only limited relief or none at all. Others have simply convinced themselves that pain comes as part of their job, workouts, or daily life.
However, when it comes to heel pain, there are two simple truths: it is never normal and there is always something that can be done to find relief.
Understanding Plantar Fasciitis
An over-the-counter cure for plantar fasciitis can be difficult to find for a rather simple reason: plantar fasciitis is rarely a “one size fits all” kind of problem. To better understand what we mean, let’s take a closer look at what plantar fasciitis is.
The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs beneath each foot. Its path connects the base of the toes to the heel bone itself. The plantar fascia helps form the arch of the foot, and also absorbs and releases energy as we move, sort of like a bow string.
When too much strain is placed on the plantar fascia, it can develop small tears and grow inflamed. This causes the stabbing pain that can be felt near the heel. It tends to be worst in the mornings or after long periods of inactivity because the band of tissue has tightened and needs time to “warm up.”
The condition itself sounds rather simple, but the underlying causes of it can be more intricate than expected.
One potential cause of plantar fasciitis is overuse. When the plantar fascia is forced to endure a greater amount of stress or stress over a longer period of time than it has been conditioned to bear, it is much more likely to become injured. If you are a runner, not giving yourself enough rest time can increase your risk of plantar fasciitis.
Activity is not the only factor, however. Strain can also be placed on the plantar fascia due to abnormalities in the structures of our feet. Having high arches or flat feet can disrupt the distribution of weight across the foot and cause unhealthy shifts in the way we walk. These factors can contribute to excess stress on the plantar fascia and cause inflammation.
Even more factors can be at play. Do you spend most of the day on your feet, especially on hard surfaces? Are you carrying excess weight? Are you wearing footwear that is properly supporting your feet and arches?
Know the Source, Know the Solution
There is a lot to consider when diagnosing and treating plantar fasciitis. A store-bought orthotic insert might be enough to fully help a handful of people but, in many cases, won’t have the right amount of correction or support needed.
Similar results could be expected for methods that only treat some of the symptoms, such as rolling a tennis ball beneath your foot to stretch and massage the plantar fascia. This is a good technique for finding some relief in many situations! However, if the root of the problem is based on your foot structure, the pain will continue coming back.
When you come to Northwood Foot and Ankle Center for your plantar fasciitis (or any other form of heel pain, for that matter), we conduct a full examination of your foot as well as the circumstances surrounding your discomfort.
Depending on your diagnosis, we may recommend one or more treatments for your plantar fasciitis. They may include:
- Custom-made orthotics, specifically prescribed to your foot shape and yours alone, providing exactly the right amount of support and correction needed.
- Night splints, a device that stretches the calf and foot arch while you sleep, helping to reduce stress on the plantar fascia.
- Physical therapy, in the form of stretches and exercises that can build stability and range of motion in needed areas, further taking excess stress off the plantar fascia.
- Medication or injections can provide temporary pain relief when needed.
Surgery is very rarely needed, and only considered when all other conservative forms of treatment have been ruled out. If the fear of undergoing surgery is keeping you from addressing your heel pain, do not let it! You likely have many options before surgery is ever on the table.
A New Hope for Your Heel Pain
Plantar fasciitis and other forms of heel pain are not problems you must force yourself to accept. With expert diagnosis and treatment, this can be the year that your pain stops being a part of your everyday life.
Northwood Foot and Ankle Center has two offices to serve patients for all their foot and ankle needs. Call our Holland office at (616) 393-9975 or our St. Joseph office at (269) 429-7670 to schedule an appointment. If you prefer, you can also reach us via our online contact form.