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Plantar Fasciitis Heel Pain Explained

Do you have sharp stabbing pain on the bottom of your heel?

Is your pain more severe when you first get out of bed in the morning, or when you first start walking after rest?

If this describes you, then you're probably suffering from a foot condition known as Plantar Fasciitis.

It sounds complicated, but plantar fasciitis is actually one of the most common foot problems. In the past plantar fasciitis has been called by other names, such as heel spur syndrome, bone spurs or a stone bruise on the heel.

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

The plantar fascia is a long thick ligament, that runs through the arch of your foot and connects to your heel bone (the calcaneus). The job of the plantar fascia is to help support your arch. When the fascia becomes inflamed and painful we call this plantar fasciitis.

The pain from plantar fasciitis most commonly occurs near the attachment of the fascia to the calcaneus (heel bone), which is why most people who suffer from plantar fasciitis have pain on the bottom or inside of the heel. However, the pain can be anywhere along the fascia from the heel to the ball of the foot.

Most patients with plantar fasciitis describe a sharp or stabbing pain on the bottom of the heel that is most severe when they first get up in the morning or after a period of resting. Some may feel like the heel is bruised while others may describe tightness or even a pulling sensation on the heel or arch.

What causes of Plantar Fasciitis?

There are multiple potential causes and contributing factors to plantar fasciitis heel pain. The structure of a person’s foot and the way that they walk or run usually play a significant role in the development of plantar fasciitis. Those with an arch that is lower or higher than the average person are more likely to be afflicted.

Overexertion and/or participating in activities that a person is not accustomed to also places a person at risk. This can include a heavy workout, a job change, or even an extended shopping trip. Additionally, inappropriate shoes are also often a factor.

Exercising in shoes that are worn out, not having enough support and/or wearing inexpensive, flimsy or flat-soled shoes are common culprits of heel pain. In warm climates, such as here in Southern California, people who wear flip-flop sandals or even go barefoot throughout the year increase their chances of developing heel pain.

Many athletes and weekend warriors develop heel or arch pain from over-exertion during running or other sports. People who work at jobs that involve long periods of standing, such as grocery checkers, cashiers, warehouse workers, postal workers, and teachers are more susceptible as well. Adults of all ages can develop plantar fasciitis. Heel pain in children is usually caused by a different type of condition.

What is the treatment for Plantar Fasciitis?

There are several things you can do to self-treat your heel or arch pain at home. The first thing to do is to wear better shoes and consider adding arch supports or custom foot orthotics to your shoes.

Stretching the calf muscles is also crucial. Try to stretch when you first get up in the morning and before you go to bed at night. Another helpful exercise for plantar fasciitis is to roll your arch and heel. This is done by placing a tennis ball, golf ball, or lacrosse ball on the floor and roll your foot on top of it. Some people get extra benefit by "rolling" on a frozen water bottle.

You should also carefully evaluate your fitness program, as you may be overdoing it. You may want consider backing off new or recently added exercises or increases in training until your heel pain improves. If you work at a standing job try to take more time to walk around during the day and avoid standing in one place for too long.

If your having heel pain we can help. Call 562-433-0478 to schedule your appointment with an experienced foot doctor in Long Beach, CA.

 

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Richard H. Graves, DPM
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Podiatrist, Sports Medicine Specialist