Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition in the heel. It results from inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue running across the bottom of your foot and connecting your heel bone to the bones of your toes.
Plantar fasciitis often causes a stabbing pain when you take your first steps after getting out of bed. As you move around, the pain usually decreases; however, it may return after you’ve been standing for long periods or when you stand up after sitting for a while.
At Monroe Foot & Ankle Care in Jamesburg, New Jersey, noted podiatrist and board-certified foot surgeon Dr. Elliott Perel and our team see many cases of plantar fasciitis, and we have numerous solutions to treat this painful condition, from conservative to cutting-edge. Here’s what you need to know about this condition.
The causes of and risks for plantar fasciitis
The plantar fascia tissue is shaped like a bowstring. It supports your foot’s arch and acts as a shock absorber when you walk. If the tension or stress on the bowstring becomes too great, small tears occur in the fascia. Repeated stretching and tearing can lead to chronic irritation and inflammation. Some cases of plantar fasciitis, though, appear to have no direct cause.
A number of factors increase your risk of developing plantar fasciitis, including:
- Age: Most common between 40 and 60
- Some types of exercise: Long-distance running, ballet, and aerobics put stress on the heel
- Foot mechanics: A high arch, flat feet, and hyperpronation (uneven distribution of weight) add stress
- Obesity: Extra pounds put stress on your feet with each step
- Certain professions: Working in a factory or teaching require long hours standing, putting too much strain on plantar fascia
If you ignore the painful symptoms of plantar fasciitis, you may set yourself up for chronic heel pain that hinders your daily activities. And simply changing the way you walk to relieve your discomfort can lead to future foot, knee, hip, or back problems. It’s important to get proper treatment.
Treatments for plantar fasciitis
Here at Monroe Foot & Ankle, we start with the most conservative treatments for your plantar fasciitis, then move to more intense or invasive therapies. Some of the alternatives we offer include:
- Physical therapy
- MLS laser therapy (non-invasive laser treats pain and inflammation)
- Anti-inflammatory medicines
- Custom orthotics
- Cortisone injections
- Regenerative medicine (PRP and stem cell injections)
- Night splints (prevent shortening of the fascia)
- Surgery (as a last resort)
We use computerized scanning to create custom orthotics that control hyperpronation (rotation of the ankle inward with the rest of the foot moving outward, causing unbalanced walking). This is the leading cause of plantar fasciitis.
What should I do — or not do — about exercise?
Proper foot support is critical to relieve plantar fasciitis pain. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons indicates that adequate support and proper fit are needed to avoid heel pain and prevent additional injuries. No matter what exercise regimen you do or which sport you prefer, make sure your shoes have proper arch and heel support. Be sure to buy new shoes as frequently as you need to provide continued support and cushioning.
Other important exercise tips include:
Go for low-impact exercise
Activities such as swimming, cycling, yoga, or elliptical cardio won't cause plantar fasciitis, nor will they make it worse if you have it. Make sure to stretch out your calves and feet both before and after you exercise. You can do things like curling and relaxing your toes and making circles with your ankles and feet.
Avoid high-impact activities
Activities such as running and jumping put a lot of stress on your feet, and they can also make your calf muscles tighter if you don't first stretch them out. If you're a runner and want to continue running, take at least a couple of weeks off to ice and rest your feet, then start slowly, gradually building up distance and endurance.
Simple home exercises can strengthen your plantar fascia. Pay particular attention to stretching your calves, Achilles tendon, and the bottom of your foot. Additional exercises that strengthen your lower leg and foot muscles can help stabilize your ankle, reduce your pain, and prevent plantar fasciitis from returning.
If you’ve got heel pain that’s sidelining you from your favorite sport or even activities of daily living, contact Monroe Foot & Ankle to find out more about what you can do. Give us a call at
732-328-6798 or book your consultation online.