The structure of your foot resembles an archer’s bow, with the bones of your feet forming the curving bow’s arch while a tough band of tissue called the plantar fascia acts as the bow’s string. The plantar fascia connects the base of the toes with your heel, creating a cushioning band that absorbs and distributes the forces your feet and legs face.
When you experience heel pain, chances are good that you have an inflammatory condition called plantar fasciitis. It’s the most common cause of heel pain. At Hudson Valley Foot Associates, we regularly treat patients with plantar fasciitis, so we know in most cases, your pain can be resolved without resorting to surgery. Here’s how to know that plantar fasciitis is causing your pain and what you can do about it.
The plantar fascia is vulnerable to overloads of tension. Its job is all about tension, but there are situations that sometimes take this band of tissue beyond its design parameters. The height of tension stress comes when you push off your toes during a step. It’s a normal part of walking and running.
Stress overloads can occur when your activity levels change. If you’ve been running occasionally and you start to train for a marathon, the sudden increase may strain the plantar fascia. Shoes that don’t cushion or support your feet can also allow stress to build on the plantar fascia, resulting in heel pain.
You may be more likely to experience plantar fascia inflammation if you are overweight. Those extra pounds could be enough to add tension to your foot’s structure, making it easier to overload.
Doctors don’t fully understand why plantar fasciitis happens. It may be a unique combination of factors that tips the tension balance over into heel pain.
There’s good news about plantar fasciitis in that most cases respond to conservative care. Less exciting is the fact it can take several months. It’s difficult to stay completely off your feet, so progress can be slow.
Resting from activities that cause heel pain is typically the first step, when it’s possible. Cold compresses and ice packs can soothe your heel, and over-the-counter, non-prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can usually help with both inflammation and pain. This may be enough to turn the tables on mild cases of plantar fasciitis.
The next level of treatment typically comes after you seek treatment with us. It could include specialized physical therapy, orthotics, night splints, or walking boots. Sometimes, corticosteroid injections may prove beneficial, but this technique must be used sparingly due to side effects of the drugs.
Extracorporeal shock wave and radial pulse therapies use pulsed energy to stimulate and accelerate your body’s healing response. We often recommend these additions to your plantar fasciitis treatment plan.
There are surgical solutions for plantar fasciitis, but we use these only when other treatments fail to produce results. Surgery isn’t a common treatment for heel pain.
Plan your visit to Hudson Valley Foot Associates. We’ve got five conveniently located offices with which you can book by phone or online. Call today.