The plantar fascia is a thick ligament that facilitates walking by supporting your foot’s arch and acts as a shock absorber. Overuse of the thick tissue due to activities such as running, or extra pressure on your feet because of sudden weight gain, can cause inflammation of the ligament, a problem called plantar fasciitis. The result is usually stabbing pain in the heel region that worsens with extended periods of standing or sitting. Most patients with this problem say the pain is severe in the morning but fades away with minimal activities throughout the day. Although plantar fasciitis usually improves with conservative treatment methods like hold and cold compresses, sometimes you may need the services of your Katy foot and ankle surgeon, if your problem is severe.
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What causes plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis can develop due to tension or extra pressure in the ligament supporting the arch of your foot. Severe tension can cause tiny tears in the fascia, and repeated activities can cause ligament inflammation. While this can occur in anyone, the following factors increase your chances of plantar fasciitis.
· Obesity – Extra body weight causes extra pressure in the fascia ligament, making it prone to tear. Sometimes experiencing sudden body weight increase strains the plantar fascia.
· Particular exercises – Extra stress on the plantar fascia can be due to ballet dancing, too much exercise, long-distance running, and aerobic dances.
· Lack of physical activities – While too much exercise can be the onset of plantar fasciitis, lack of physical activity shortens your ligament and makes it less flexible.
· Occupation – You are more likely to develop this foot problem if your job demands standing or sitting for long hours. Professions like teaching, that require you to stand on hard surfaces for long hours, put you at risk for plantar fasciitis.
How is plantar fasciitis treated?
Treatment approaches range from home remedies to surgery. Most people with plantar fasciitis experience relief from pain with self-care measures such as resting, stretching, and hot or cold compresses.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen can reduce the heel pain caused by the inflammation of the ligament.
A physical therapist can guide you through different stretches and exercises to help reduce the pain. Some of these exercises strengthen your lower leg muscles, reducing your risk for plantar fasciitis. Sometimes therapy involves using special devices such as splints, to relieve the symptoms. Wearing a splint during the night stretches the plantar fascia and Achilles Tendon, and prevents the pain you would experience in the morning. Orthotics facilitates even distribution of pressure in your feet, and can help in symptom relief.
If your symptoms fail to improve with conservative measures, your doctor may administer steroid medication into the affected area. Steroids offer temporary relief and should only be used for a short period as long-term use can cause damage to the plantar fascia. Ultrasound imaging offers guidance as the doctor directs the needle to the tender area.
Although rare, some people with severe pain may need surgery after other conservative treatments do not offer relief.
If you have heel pain that won’t go away, visit your specialist at Kay Foot & Ankle, PLLC, for treatment to ease the discomfort.