Does your heel pain come on strong every morning? Do you dread putting your feet on the ground again after waking up or sitting for a while? If so, there’s a pretty decent chance you have a condition known as plantar fasciitis.
Understanding why this condition occurs and what can be done about it is important for finding relief. Fortunately, the great news is that plantar fasciitis is treatable, almost always non-surgically—even if you’ve been suffering for months (or years) with no permanent relief.
Whether you need expert heel pain treatment or simply more information, Foot & Ankle Center of Oklahoma is here to help! We offer a variety of treatment options, from simple and traditional to state-of-the-art, to help get you back on your feet.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
On the bottom of your foot, running from heel to toes, is a thick band of fibrous tissue known as the plantar fascia. Under normal circumstances, the fascia both supports your foot’s arch by absorbing shock and acts as a spring to help conserve energy.
When the fibrous band faces excessive impact forces or tension, tiny tears develop in the tissue. If you don’t take steps to heal the damage, repetitive cycles of stretching and tearing will cause the fascia to become painful and inflamed.
Why Does My Heel Hurt in the Morning?
The most apparent symptom of plantar fasciitis is the intense heel pain experienced with the first steps of the day and following any extended periods of inactivity. This phenomenon is known as post-static dyskinesia, which happens because the body works to repair the damaged tissue during times of rest.
As physical activity—even simply walking out of the bedroom—is resumed, the tissue becomes torn again and the nervous system triggers the painful sensation to let you know something is wrong.
Am I at Risk?
Plantar fasciitis is an overuse injury, meaning it results from the plantar fascia being worked too hard over too long a timeframe.
While anyone could potentially develop plantar fasciitis, various considerations make it more likely to occur. Females, overweight individuals, and those who work in jobs that require lots of standing or walking on hard surfaces have a greater risk.
Additionally, tight calf muscles, overuse of certain exercises, and arch abnormalities (both high and low) increase the likelihood of plantar fasciitis.
Wearing shoes that lack sufficient cushioning and arch support can also be a contributing factor.
Treating the Pain of Plantar Fasciitis
There are a variety of plantar fasciitis treatment methods that alleviate heel pain.
Rest, ice, and over-the-counter medications are all components of conservative care, but stretching is perhaps the most important. Our OKC podiatrist, Dr. Darren Elenburg, can provide specific treatments and recommendations for you. For mild cases of plantar fasciitis, this may be all that is required.
A corticosteroid injection is used to give necessary pain relief for some patients. The primary concern with this approach is that multiple injections may weaken the fascia, increase the risk of rupture, and reduce the protective pad of fat covering the heel bone. As such, this is not an approach we want to repeatedly use.
One advanced treatment option we’re proud to provide is shockwave therapy. This is a non-invasive technique that uses pressure waves to stimulate and accelerate the natural healing process. It’s drug free, extremely safe, and a great choice for those who have not gotten relief from more traditional methods – as well as athletes, workers, and anyone who wants the best chance at the fastest possible recovery.
For extremely stubborn cases that don’t respond to any conservative therapies, we also provide Topaz radiofrequency treatment, a minimally invasive alternative to surgery that uses a small needle-like wand to break up scar tissue in the fascia in several spots. It only takes a few minutes, and is highly effective.
Only in extremely rare circumstances would a surgical release of the plantar fascia be considered. This is something we discuss in-depth so you are able to make an informed decision.
Can Plantar Fasciitis Be Prevented?
It is difficult to completely, 100% prevent this condition, but you can definitely take steps to reduce your risk of experiencing it.
As with many common foot and ankle conditions, preventative measures start with your choice in footwear. Always pick supportive models with low to moderate heels that offer shock absorption and provide solid arch support. If you are a runner who has had the same pair for roughly 500 miles, it’s time to replace your running shoes.
If you live an active lifestyle (and we strongly recommend that you do), consider incorporating low-impact exercises into your fitness regimen. Walking, jogging, and running are all great activities, but they place a lot of pressure on your feet and ankles. Replace a couple of sessions each week with bicycling, swimming, or yoga to not only provide relief for your lower limbs, but also to achieve a greater overall level of fitness. Of course, do not forget to warm up and stretch prior to and after any physical activity!
Plantar Fasciitis Treatment in OKC
If you are experiencing any pain or impaired functionality in your foot or ankle, do not hesitate to contact us and get started on your road to recovery. We offer effective heel pain treatment, but are also ready to help you with any other foot or ankle issues you might face. Call Foot & Ankle Center of Oklahoma today at (405) 418-2676 today.
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