Most people don’t give much thought to their heels – until they start to hurt, until every step acts as a reminder that something is wrong. Given how much work our heels do each day – providing us with strength, support, and balance – it’s no surprise that issues develop, especially as we grow older. One of the painful heel conditions we see most frequently at CDA Foot & Ankle Clinic is plantar fasciitis.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Along the bottom of the foot runs a think band of tissue called the plantar fascia. This tissue connects the toes to the heel bone. When overuse or consistent and intense pressure is placed on the plantar fascia, it can damage the tissue, causing inflammation, stiffness, and pain at the sole of the foot. This is plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is most often caused a repetitive strain injury to the ligament on the sole of the foot. Excessive or intense running or walking, footwear that provides inadequate cushioning and support, sudden weight gain, prolonged sitting and standing, or recent changes in physical activity can all increase the chances of developing the plantar fasciitis. Additionally, some underlying medical conditions, such as reactive arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, can also contribute to plantar fasciitis.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Plantar Fasciitis
Most patients with plantar fasciitis can find relief through at-home treatments, footwear choices, and exercises that can effectively reduce and resolve the pain caused by the condition. As an initial approach, your podiatrist may recommend some or all of the following:
- Stretching exercises. Try gentle calf stretches for 20 to 30 seconds on each leg. Standing barefoot, lean forward towards a wall with one foot forward and one foot back.
- Wearing supportive footwear. Wearing supportive and well-fitting shoes that have good arch support and a slightly raised heel can reduce stress on the plantar fascia. Consider shoes with shock-absorbent soles, rigid shanks, and supportive heel counters.
- Ice. Applying an ice pack to your heel for 15 minutes several times a day helps reduce inflammation. Make sure to place a thin towel between the ice and your heel instead of putting the ice directly on your skin.
- Reduce activities. Limit extended physical activities so that your heel can rest and void running on hard surfaces and engaging in other high impact sports.
- Medications. We may recommend oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Padding and strapping. Inserting heel cushions in your shoe can soften the impact of walking. Strapping helps support the foot and reduces strain on the fascia.
- Custom orthotics. Custom orthotic devices that slide into your shoe can correct biomechanical imbalance, control excessive pronation, and support the ligaments and tendons attached to the heel bone.
- Injection therapy. In some cases, we can use corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
Surgical Treatments For Plantar Fasciitis
Although non-surgical treatments are effective for most patients, a small percentage of individuals may require surgery to address plantar fasciitis. If you continue to have heel pain after several months of treatment, surgery may be the recommended option.
In addition to traditional surgery, we regularly perform minimally invasive plantar fasciitis and heel spur surgery. Using advanced techniques, we can reduce the risks, trauma, pain, and recovery time associated with traditional approaches.
In minimally invasive plantar fasciitis surgery, we make a small incision (less than 1cm) to release the plantar fascia. We also may remove the heel spur. Sutures are usually not necessary, and postoperative patients can ambulate immediately with a surgical shoe or boot.
If you are experiencing frequent or consistent heel pain, you should schedule an appointment with a qualified and experienced podiatrist to determine the cause of the problem. Understanding the reasons behind your discomfort is the first step towards resolving the issue.
Living With Heel Pain? You Don’t Need To. Schedule Your Appointment With Coeur d’Alene Foot and Ankle Clinic Today
Coeur d’Alene Foot and Ankle Clinic and Surgery Center provides exceptional care for all foot and ankle conditions, including plantar fasciitis, by a skilled and committed team of physicians and staff. We offer the most advanced corrective surgical procedures and specialize in the Isham minimally invasive techniques recognized by orthopedic and podiatric surgeons worldwide.
If you are experiencing heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis or any other condition, please call us today at (208) 666-0605 to schedule your appointment.