Not being able to run or even walk without pain is not only frustrating but can drastically affect quality of life. Simple tasks like going up the stairs in your house or walking through the grocery store become harder and, if symptoms worsen, almost impossible. Luckily, heel pain, most commonly caused by plantar fasciitis, is a condition that comes with many forms of rehabilitation and treatment.
What causes plantar fasciitis?
Heel pain can be caused by many things, such as:
- Natural structural deformities in the foot (too high or flat of an arch)
- Wearing non-supportive footwear
- Standing for long periods of time
Plantar fasciitis symptoms include pain on the bottom of the heel and in the arch of the foot. The pain is usually described as being increased early in the morning, just after waking up, or after getting up after long periods of sitting. Since walking stretches the muscles affected, after a few minutes of moving around, the pain may begin to subside. This pain usually increases in severity over several months.
How is heel pain treated?
Heel pain attributed to plantar fasciitis can be treated many ways.
For mild cases, at-home care is sometimes sufficient:
- Stretching: Stretching the muscles in the calf and foot promote healing and pain relief.
- Icing: Icing the foot for 20 minutes at a time several times a day helps reduce inflammation.
- Medicines: Anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen brings down swelling.
- Resting: Avoiding the use of the foot aids in allowing the healing process to occur naturally.
If there is still pain after several weeks of trying these at-home methods, it is time to see the doctor. They may prescribe one of the following:
- Walking cast or splint: These apparatuses keep the foot immobile in order to help it heal.
- Orthotic Devices: Custom shoe inserts may also be used to better support the foot.
- Physical therapy: Special exercises that are beneficial to healing relieve pain.
- Injection Therapy: Cortisone injections can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
- Surgery: Surgery is needed in severe cases that do not see results from any of the above strategies.
Since heel pain can usually be attributed to underlying causes, it is important for the patient to consider what led to the pain in the first place. In order to see long-term results, some people may need to consider ongoing lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or wearing more supportive shoes.
Dr. Robert J. Greene is an expert in heel pain and how to treat it. If you are suffering from heel pain, visit www.centralmassfoot.com to schedule a consultation today.