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Jul 20

Plantar Fasciitis: When Should You See A Foot Specialist?

It’s not uncommon for people to suffer from mild foot pain from time to time. Usually, minor pain resolves quickly, but if you are suffering from heel pain for more than a couple of days, you may be developing an issue known as plantar fasciitis, and quick action can keep this problem from becoming a chronic source of pain.

Our feet are surprisingly complex structures with 28 bones and 30 joints per foot. The foot also has more than 100 tendons, muscles and ligaments. One of these ligaments is called the plantar fascia and it runs from your heel to the front part of your foot. When this ligament or tissue becomes inflamed, it can cause heel pain, sometimes severe heel pain.

If you feel a stabbing pain in your heel upon waking up and taking your first steps, this might be plantar fasciitis. You also might experience pain after sitting for a long time. In many cases, especially just as this problem is developing, the pain might subside after you walk around for a minute or two.

Who Is At Risk For Plantar Fasciitis?

Anyone can suffer from this condition, but it is quite common with runners and long-distance hikers as well as people who work on their feet all day. Additionally, some people with particularly low arches or very high arches or people with an unusual gait or walk can develop this issue. Likewise, it can be common with people that are overweight, as excess weight puts more pressure on the foot in general.

How Can I Treat Plantar Fasciitis?

Often, people are tempted to simply alter the way they walk when they suffer from heel pain. While this might alleviate the discomfort, changing your gait can cause other foot problems to develop as well as knee and hip issues and can contribute to back pain.

In general, there are several things you can do early on that can alleviate or eliminate plantar fasciitis pain, including:

  • Wear supportive shoes – If you suffer from heel pain, walking around barefoot is not a good idea. Supportive, well-fitting footwear can support your entire foot and reduce the strain on your plantar fascia. Wear some compression socks with your supportive shoes to give your foot that extra bit of support.
  • Modify your shoes – There are special inserts you can use to reduce pressure on your plantar fascia. There are also special orthotic socks that you can wear at night that can help reduce the heel pain and help the plantar fascia heal.
  • Ice your heel – Elevate that foot and place a bag of ice on the sore area several times each day to help ease the inflammation.
  • Reduce activities – Skip the five-mile run or your hike in the hills for a few days to allow your plantar fascia to rest and heal.
  • Stretch before walking – It’s always smart to stretch your legs and your feet before exercising or even when you get up in the morning. Stretching gets the blood flowing and gets those feet warmed up and ready for the day.

A Word About Obesity & Plantar Fasciitis

Reducing your weight definitely can alleviate strain on your feet and reduce all types of foot pain issues. Of course, if you are suffering from chronic foot pain, you might be wondering how you can reduce weight if you can’t walk around comfortably.

If you have access to a pool, swimming can be an excellent option for people with severe foot pain. It provides an excellent source of cardiovascular exercise without putting pressure on your feet. Pilates is another type of exercise that has a relatively low impact on your feet. An elliptical cross-training machine can provide an excellent cardio workout without taxing our feet as much as walking, running or jogging. A rowing machine also can be an option to consider.

While finding sources of exercise can be tricky (particularly during our current pandemic), switching to a healthier diet is definitely something we all can do. Skip the junk food, and start making some healthier choices. If you aren’t sure which foods are the best choices for you, talk to a dietician or nutritionist, this is especially crucial if you have health issues such as diabetes.

It can be hard during these stressful times to make healthier choices, but not only can a healthy diet reduce your weight, but it also can improve your health and even reduce stress and anxiety.

When Should You Call A Podiatrist?

In general, any time you have foot pain that doesn’t relieve after resting the foot or trying the aforementioned home remedies, you should give your foot specialist a call. Chronic foot pain can make life miserable, and once you get to a certain point, you may need medical intervention to resolve the issue.

During your visit, Dr. Bank will examine your foot and take a thorough medical history. Diagnostic tools such as x-rays or ultrasounds might be needed, and, in some cases, we might also want to schedule blood work and an MRI. It’s important that we arrive at the correct diagnosis before we begin treatment. Rest assured, whether you have plantar fasciitis or another source of foot pain, Dr. Bank can provide you with any treatment you might need.

In addition to the home treatments, Dr. Bank might also consider the following treatments for plantar fasciitis:

  • Custom orthotics Unlike over-the-counter orthotics, these are custom-made for your feet and can help correct underlying structural abnormalities that can cause plantar fasciitis.
  • Injection therapy – Corticosteroid injections can help reduce the inflammation as well as the heel pain associated with plantar fasciitis.
  • Removable walking cast – In some cases, wearing a removable walking cast for several weeks can take the pressure off the foot and allow it to heal.
  • Physical therapy – There are special exercises that can provide relief for heel pain as well as other types of foot pain.
  • Surgery – In most cases, non-surgical treatment will help resolve plantar fasciitis, but in rare cases, surgery might be needed. Surgical procedures typically are minimally invasive, so you should be up and around and walking immediately after the surgery with little discomfort.

If you are suffering from chronic heel pain, please give Dr. Bank a call at any time. There’s no reason to endure the discomfort of plantar fasciitis or any other type of foot issue. There are many treatment options that can reduce and eliminate pain and allow you to maximize your enjoyment of life.