Nearly 2 million Americans suffer from plantar fasciitis.
Heel and foot pain, spurs, tight tendons, and stiffness could be signs that you had a long day, you wore the wrong shoes, or that you have a common condition known as plantar fasciitis, along with nearly 2 million other Americans. For many of us living busy lives, we often brush off our own health unless or until we experience excruciating pain or some form of debilitation. But, foot pain, even a mild amount, is nothing to put on your to-do list for when you have time. The feet are the foundation of the body and when your feet aren’t operating at 100%, neither are you. Identifying, diagnosing, and treating plantar fasciitis can be fast and easy, leading you to have more comfort as you handle everything else in your life.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis is simply inflammation of the tissue in your foot. It’s a common misconception that plantar fasciitis only affects the heel of the foot, however, it can affect any part of the bottom of your foot, since it’s the tissue between the toes and your heel that gets inflamed. This tissue is called “fascia” which helps to explain the origin of the nomenclature: plantar fasciitis. Another reason this condition is often perceived to only affect the heel of the foot is due to heel spurs, which were once thought to be the cause of the discomfort, but now are merely a symptom some experience from plantar fasciitis.
Many people who have plantar fasciitis wake up with stabbing pain in the bottom of their feet during the first few steps of their day. Early morning pain and stiffness is a big indication of plantar fasciitis, but not the only sign. Pain and discomfort can also arise after long periods of standing or exercise like running, which explains why plantar fasciitis is also called “policeman’s heel.”
The pain develops because the fascia in the foot act as shock absorbers that help support the arch of your foot. Over time, or with increased tension, small tears happen in the fascia, which leads to the inflammation that causes pain. However, in some cases, the exact cause is unclear.
Who is more likely to get Plantar Fasciitis?
People who spend long periods of time on their feet, such as factory workers, teachers, doctors, nurses, and retail employees are at a higher risk of developing plantar fasciitis. Wearing ill-fitting shoes is another contributing factor. Shoes with greater arch support and heel protection are best to avoid pain and discomfort. Two less obvious contributors to plantar fasciitis are poor posture or an atypical gait. Experiencing heel or foot pain and not treating it, though, can lead to back, knee and hip problems as many people adjust their walking to compensate for the pain and discomfort.
Plantar fasciitis is most common in people between the ages of 40 – 60. Although, if you’re flat footed, your likelihood of developing plantar fasciitis regardless of age or lifestyle is greater.
Other Contributing Factors to Plantar Fasciitis
Weight is also a contributor to plantar fasciitis, as being overweight puts greater stress and tension on your feet as they hold up your body. But beware in trying to exercise as a way to help alleviate plantar fasciitis. Certain types of exercise like running as previously mentioned, as well as aerobics, jumping, and dance-based workouts can lead to heel pain and plantar fasciitis.
Diagnosing Plantar Fasciitis
The good news is that identifying and diagnosing plantar fasciitis is straightforward and relatively simple. Many times, people can identify the condition themselves. In fact, diagnosing plantar fasciitis does not require any imaging like an X-Ray or MRI, which can be one reason many people avoid seeking treatment. Plantar fasciitis is also a treatable condition, although without proper attention to the pain, it can seem chronic. However, there is no substitute for seeking the advice of a trusted healthcare professional.
Treating Plantar Fasciitis
There are several ways to treat plantar fasciitis to alleviate heel and foot pain. Rest is one of the best remedies, especially if you think your discomfort is caused by exercise or excessive stress on your feet. Icing the affected area can also help manage the pain. Other remedies include stretching and/or light physical therapy. Stretches that focus on the Achilles tendon and lower leg muscles as these will help stabilize and strengthen your ankles and heels. This will allow you to stand, walk, or workout for longer periods of time with less discomfort. Physical therapy can help stretch your muscles and tendons, work out and tension, and provide day-to-day stretches that might help. Kinesio taping along the bottom of the foot, heel, and lower leg is another way to reduce pain and discomfort due to plantar fasciitis, but should be done by a professional like your chiropractor.
Finally, orthotics, or insoles, can be a great remedy for plantar fasciitis. There are a variety of types designed to reduce pain and discomfort. Custom orthotics can work in nearly any type of shoe from athletic shoes, high heels, and even sandals. They are easily made to help treat plantar fasciitis that are specific to your body and factors in your weight, posture, and gait. Plantar fasciitis is a common, although uncomfortable, condition that can easily be treated. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms like heel pain, stabbing pain when you wake-up, or pain along the arch and/or bottom of your foot, it’s most likely plantar fasciitis. Making small shifts to your lifestyle, stretching, and using orthotics can all be a great remedy to get you back, or keep you on your feet with greater comfort and control.