We have to take care of our feet. Life becomes impossible if we don’t. This is especially true if you don’t work in an industry where you get to sit. Laborers, retail workers, waiters, cooks, and many other service industry employees are on their feet constantly. This is to say nothing of athletes who put a tremendous amount of stress on their feet.
It’s not uncommon to begin to experience pain in your feet. At one time or another, we all suffer with it. But what happens when a nice massage or soaking your feet doesn’t seem to be doing the trick? Have you noticed inflammation or reddening on the soles of your feet, particularly down by the heel? You could be experiencing plantar fasciitis.
What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis, sometimes known as policeman’s heel, is a very common inflammation related condition of the foot that makes it quite painful to stand on. It generally acts up first thing in the morning and changes in frequency throughout the day. If you’re on your feet all day because of work or lifestyle, it can stay aggravated for most of the day and be quite uncomfortable. You could reach the point of debilitation.
Runners develop this condition fairly often due to the nature of their lifestyles. And while the condition is often associated with runners, everyone can develop it. Because it’s based on pressure and support, those who are overweight are at a greater risk of developing plantar fasciitis. Poor support from shoes is another big contributor. If you don’t wear inserts in your shoes, especially if you’re flat footed, you could be putting yourself at unnecessary risk of being in pain. People who work on their feet would be wise to invest in supportive shoes to wear during working hours to minimize the damage caused by being on their feet all day.
How is it identified?
There are some telltale signs of plantar fasciitis. Generally, it’s a stabbing pain in the heel and you may visibly see reddening or inflammation. Of course, many painful conditions present this way so going to an orthopedist is your best bet to get an exact diagnosis as to the source of your foot pain. Typically, your orthopedist can identify the cause of your pain with an inspection and a conversation about your medical history or lifestyle habits. In some cases, imaging like an X-ray or MRI would be appropriate. This would be used in the event that there was suspicion that another condition such as bone spurs could be at the root of your pain.
It’s important to identify your condition as soon as possible because of the complications that can arise if it’s ignored. The pain can become chronic if you keep adding pressure onto the heel. Additionally, if all you do to avoid the pain is modify your natural step, you could be doing more damage to other parts of your foot. Unnatural arching can put increased strain on your foot and leg, leading to additional problems.
How is it treated?
Treating plantar fasciitis can look different depending on the patient. Your orthopedist will work with you to come up with a treatment routine that ranges from minimally invasive to more invasive if your particular situation calls for it. More often than not, anti-inflammatory medication combined with therapy is successful. This could include stretching exercises and other kinds of physical therapy to stretch and strengthen the lower leg muscles. You may be told to apply athletic tape when on your feet for long periods of time or even wear splints while you sleep in order to stretch the ankle overnight. You may also receive a recommendation for inserts in your shoes.
If your plantar fasciitis doesn’t respond to typical treatments, surgery may be an option. This is rare, however. Alternatively, you may receive steroid injections to relieve the pain. The goal is to alter the pressure on your heel for long enough that it has the opportunity to heal. That’s why tape, inserts, and exercises are important to keep up with even once you’re starting to feel better. The condition can return and the construction of your foot might make you susceptible to it returning. This is especially true for runners who aren’t simply going to give up what makes them happy because of pain. Adapting will be key.
Foot pain is a serious issue. While there are many causes, including plantar fasciitis, it’s important to see an orthopedist once symptoms begin to appear. Because many of these painful conditions develop over time, the earlier you seek treatment, the higher quality of life you’ll have. The key is to receive an accurate diagnosis, proper treatment, and medical advice for how to prevent reoccurrences of the condition in the future. If you’re having foot pain, contact us today. The team at Next Step Orthopedics is here to provide you with the care you need so you can live a life without pain.
Call us at (972) 547-0047 or book an appointment online.