Feeling Like There's No End to Your Heel Pain? Sick of Those Painful Steps First Thing in the Morning? This is For You
You wake up and slowly begin to get out of bed, hoping that you won’t feel it but.. Ouch! Nope, there it is. That dreaded stabbing first step pain at the bottom of your heel. It stays with you - it could be for those first few minutes, few hours, or the whole day. It may gradually ease as you keep walking. You’re eager to get off your feet - you sit down and put your feet up and feel that sweet relief. But then.. when you finally have to stand, there it is back again and even stronger.
If you can relate to the above, then I’m sorry to say that there’s a high chance you have a condition called Plantar Fasciitis.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis describes the inflammation or damage to your plantar fascia. In general, a fascia is a band of connective tissue that serves to connect, stabilise and enclose musculature and structures throughout the human body. The plantar fascia specifically describes the thick connective tissue band at the bottom of the foot, which runs from the bottom of the heel and spans your arch to the toes in a fan-like shape. When the fascia becomes inflamed (and painful!), this is called plantar fasciitis.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Because the fascia spans the arch and is stretched every time we take a step, any overuse or a heavy load on the fascia can cause it to become damaged and inflamed. It may be from a sudden increase in physical activity that strained the fascia, it could be from a day out in footwear with poor support that overloaded the fascia, your foot type may be the cause or a contributing factor, it could be trauma to the foot - basically anything that strains and overuses the fascia.
What are the Symptoms?
As we mentioned earlier, a stabbing pain first thing in the morning on walking (and hence stretching the inflamed fascia) is a common symptom, as well as pain on standing after rest through the day. You’ll also typically experience pain on pushing into the bottom and inside of your heel that stabs or aches. The pain can last for years if untreated and ranges in severity from a mild discomfort to an excruciating ache.
So.. How Do I fix it?!
Fantastic question. The first thing you actually must do is see your podiatrist. This is because firstly, heel pain can be caused by other conditions and injuries and you don’t want to waste time, money and days of ongoing pain treating your ‘plantar fasciitis’ when it’s something different.Secondly, here at The Podiatrist, your treatment needs to include your specific needs, lifestyle and goals. We work with you to take into consideration you daily activities, work requirements and exercise commitments while getting you pain-free, happy and reaching your fullest potential as fast as possible so the plan we give you may very well differ from the plan of the person sitting next to you in our waiting room (it’s fairly probable they’ll have plantar fasciitis too - heel pain is one of our specialties!). From there, your podiatrist will discuss with you everything from footwear to the possibility of orthotics where it will be beneficial, stretching and exercise, tips and tricks such as stretching in bed to dull the first step pain, any soft tissue work directly to the plantar fascia and anything else that will get you better quickly! Where necessary, our podiatrists may refer you for an x-ray or ultrasound. When left untreated and with continued overloading, plantar fasciitis may progress to a plantar fascial tear or even a rupture - another reason why you must see your podiatrist, especially if it’s very painful - you may already have a tear which will alter the best recommended treatment.
Will it Ever Come Back?
Think of it like stubbing your toe. If you’ve stubbed your toe before, can it happen again? Absolutely. If you take care, the chances of that are greatly reduced. If you walk over a dodgy doorway multiple times a day then the chances of stubbing your toe again are increased. It’s a bit like that with soft tissue injuries - yes you definitely can damage a tissue you’ve damaged before. However, here at The Podiatrist we don’t just diagnose and treat your painful condition but we figure why it happened and address that too. For example, a flatter foot type generally does put a greater load and more strain on the plantar fascia and if that was a large contributing factor to your injury then by addressing the biomechanical abnormalities you’re greatly reducing your chance of re-injury. We don’t want to just help your current pain but stop it coming back in the future so you’re free to realise your fullest potential!
Summed up: Plantar fasciitis is a painful and debilitating condition but you don’t need to put up with it and it’s very treatable! We love seeing our patients with plantar fasciitis beating their heel pain and would love to help you beat it too! Give us a call and have a chat to our lovely team about how we can help you too! 07 4638 3022