The band of tissue connecting your heal to your toes is called the plantar fascia, a ligament that supports the arch of your foot. If this gets strained by overstretching or overuse, it will weaken, become inflamed and swollen, and cause pain in your heel or bottom of your foot. This condition is called plantar fasciitis, and it’s the number one cause for heel pain.
When heel pain strikes you, here’s what you need to know to strike back.
Recognize the Risk Factors
Plantar fasciitis occurs most often in active middle-aged men, but can happen to anyone at any age, and it may affect one foot or both. This condition is common for people who stand, walk, or run on hard surfaces, uneven ground, or downhill for prolonged periods of time. In addition, you’re more likely to develop this condition if your feet point inward when you walk, you have flat feet or high arches, you’re overweight or gain weight suddenly, your calf muscles or Achilles tendons are tight, or you wear shoes that lack support.
Feeling the Fasciitis
The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is stiffness and a dull or sharp pain on the bottom of the heel. The heel may even have an achy or burning feel.
Pain is usually worse early in the morning when you’re getting out of bed or after you’ve been sitting for a long time. After taking a few steps in the morning, the pain and stiffness typically lessens, only for the pain to worsen throughout the day. The pain is also worse when climbing stairs, after standing for a long time, or after activity.
If you feel pain in your foot at night, it probably isn’t plantar fasciitis but another condition such as tarsal tunnel syndrome or arthritis.
Healing Your Heels
If you suspect you have plantar fasciitis, make an appointment to see a medical professional. He or she can help diagnose your condition. As far as treatment goes, what works to treat one person’s plantar fasciitis may not work for another. Each person’s experience is different.
A good place to start treatment is at home, using home remedies. The first line of treatment to heal your plantar fascia and relieve your pain is rest. Stay off your feet as much as possible and avoid walking or running on hard surfaces. Don’t do activities that cause pain. Instead of running to burn calories, choose exercises such as cycling or swimming that don’t place stress on your feet.
Another helpful tip is to ice your heel twice a day for 10 to 15 minutes to reduce swelling and pain. Taking over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin can help you deal with the pain. Stretching your toes and calves first thing in the morning and then several times throughout the day can also help, as can investing in and wearing a new pair of shoes with adequate cushioning and good arch support or shoe inserts.
Home treatment is usually successful, but if your condition isn’t improved after a couple months, it’s time for medical assistance. Your physician may recommend various treatments, including wearing splints at night, wearing a special boot cast during the day, steroid shots in your heel, shock treatment, or, as a last resort, surgery.
Where It Ends
Plantar fasciitis doesn’t happen overnight. Rather, the injuries that result in the condition occur over time. Therefore, it may take a few weeks to up to two years to completely heal your heels. The sooner you start treatment, the sooner you’ll heal. If you let the pain continue without intervening, you may develop chronic pain that won’t go away. So stick with your treatment plan to beat it once for all.
And you should also know that you don’t have to take plantar fasciitis lying down. Help prevent plantar fasciitis by keeping your calf muscle, Achilles tendon, and ankle flexible by doing regular stretches. Also, wear supportive shoes and take rest breaks during long periods of standing or walking. With these steps, you’ll have pain-free steps for years to come!
A Lot of Foot Pain
Nearly one out of every 10 people will suffer from plantar fasciitis during life. Don’t let it get you down! Find it, fight it, and get on with life!
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