The plantar fascia is a ligament in your foot that reaches from the calcaneus bone at the back of your heel to the base of your toes. This thick band stretches like a bowstring and helps to maintain your foot arch. The fascia can become inflamed for any number of reasons, and when it does, the resulting condition is known as plantar fasciitis, and it produces a characteristic pain in the heel.
Podiatric physician and board-certified foot surgeon Dr. Elliott Perel and his team at Monroe Foot & Ankle Care provide foot and ankle treatment for patients in the Monroe Township area of New Jersey. That includes diagnosing and treating plantar fasciitis, a common condition that can put a dent in your ability to walk comfortably. Because not everyone knows what the risk factors for plantar fasciitis are, our team has put together this guide with that information and much, much more.
Getting to know your plantar fascia
The plantar fascia is a major structural component of your foot, not just supporting your arch, but also acting as a shock absorber when you move around. If you run and jump a lot, you may put too much pressure on the ligament over an extended period of time. This creates small tears in the tissue, leading to inflammation and, ultimately, pain in the heel.
Because the ligament naturally tightens as you sleep, the pain you feel is usually worse in the morning. When you get up, you need to do some stretching exercises to get it to relax. If you have a severe case, though, the ligament may not stretch enough to relieve the pain, and it lingers all day.
7 risk factors for plantar fasciitis
Putting too much strain on the fascia is a major cause of plantar fasciitis, but there are other contributing factors that lead to the condition. Seven risk factors include:
- Being overweight, obese, or pregnant
- Engaging in running/jumping activities such as ballet, soccer, or basketball
- Having flat feet or high arches
- Wearing shoes with inadequate arch and heel support, or high heels
- Having tight calf muscles and/or tight Achilles tendons
- Abnormal walking patterns, including hyperpronation (ankle turns inward)
- Standing or walking all day, especially on hard surfaces
If you don’t treat the condition, you can develop knee, hip, and/or back problems as a result of an improper gait (favoring the painful foot).
Treating plantar fasciitis
At Monroe Foot & Ankle Care, we always treat problems conservatively to start. Your treatment plan may include:
- Physical therapy: stretching exercises, hot/cold treatment, ultrasound
- MLS laser therapy: reduces pain, inflammation, and swelling
- Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines
- Cortisone injections
- Regenerative medicine: platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and/or stem cell injections
- Night splints: prevent toes from pointing downward
Foot support is critical to relieve plantar fasciitis pain. Dr. Perel uses computerized scanning to create custom orthotics. These slip in your shoes and control hyperpronation, the leading cause of plantar fasciitis. You can also find shoes, both in-store and online, with extra heel and arch cushioning and a wide, deep toe box to allow your feet room to stretch.
If you’re experiencing heel pain that’s worse in the morning or after standing for long periods, chances are good you have plantar fasciitis. To learn more, and to get proper treatment, schedule a consultation with Dr. Perel. Call us at 732-521-6166, or book online with us today.