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If you’ve ever stretched your foot too much and felt a sudden pain along the bottom of your foot, you probably experienced a mild form of plantar fasciitis. More than three million Americans suffer from plantar fasciitis. If you, or someone you know, are one of them, here are things you need to know about its symptoms and treatments.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition caused by strain to the plantar fascia, the ligament that connects your toes to your heel.
This condition can occur at any age, but it’s most common in people who are on their feet a lot (such as athletes), and middle-aged people. Foot pain at night is usually not a symptom of plantar fasciitis. If this is what you’re experiencing, you may be suffering from a nerve problem (like tarsal tunnel syndrome), arthritis, or another condition.
How Do I Get Plantar Fasciitis?
There are many ways of developing plantar fasciitis, though in most cases, the condition worsens over time as you repeatedly strain your ligament. Common causes include:
- Being overweight (which puts extra pressure on the bottom of your feet)
- Having tightness in your body, especially around your calves or Achilles tendon
- Being on your feet, especially on hard surfaces, for an extended period
- Wearing shoes that don’t fit correctly
- Having unusually-shaped feet (mainly flat feet or high arches)
- Rolling your feet more than you should
It’s also possible to develop plantar fasciitis from more immediate causes, such as injuries caused by a vehicle collision or a fall.
How Can I Prevent Plantar Fasciitis?
Preventing plantar fasciitis is difficult. Many people don’t realize they have plantar fasciitis until after symptoms have already developed, and at that point, treatment is often the only valid option. However, if you’re worried about developing plantar fasciitis, there are a few things you can do.
- First, always wear shoes that fit. If your shoes feel like they’re too tight or put pressure on the wrong place, you may need to change them. Be sure to get a new measurement of your foot before you buy new shoes, as your size may have changed.
- Next, try to improve your lifestyle. Keeping your weight down and finding a good balance between being on your feet and resting can help you avoid plantar fasciitis.
- Finally, try to avoid spending too much time on hard surfaces. If you need to stand for a long period, consider investing in a cushion or mat for your feet.
If you haven’t yet developed plantar fasciitis, doing these three things can help you avoid it. However, there is a genetic component involved, so it may not be possible to completely prevent plantar fasciitis ahead of time.
How Can I Treat Plantar Fasciitis?
The good news is that plantar fasciitis is almost always treatable, and it rarely develops to the point where surgery or other invasive procedures are necessary.
No single treatment plan is appropriate for every case. Your physical condition, lifestyle, and other medical needs may impact your treatment. However, there are several common things that your doctor may suggest.
- First, try to cut back on using your feet. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should sit in a chair all day, but chances are you’ll be asked to avoid high-impact things, including walking or running on hard surfaces. For exercise, consider full-body workouts like swimming that can help keep you fit without putting too much pressure on your feet.
- Next, do proper stretches on a regular basis. Physical therapy is an important part of getting your body to recover the way it should, and your doctor will provide a list of recommended stretches that includes what to do and how often to do them. Be sure to follow this exactly – doing too few or too many repetitions could lead to further damage.
- After that, get shoes that are more appropriate for your condition. Your doctor may suggest heel cups, special shoe inserts, or simply a brand with good support for your arches. Remember to use the treatment on both feet, regardless of whether or not both of them hurt.
- Finally, aim to reduce the swelling and pain. You may be asked to ice your feet or take common pain relievers.
In rare cases, you may need treatments like steroids, splints, or surgery. Most treatments will show their effects within several weeks, but it could take as long as a year for your pain to completely disappear. It is vital that you continue your treatment until directed to stop.
If you think you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis, or you’re worried about developing it, contact Countryside Orthopaedics today to get more information.