If you are dealing with plantar fasciitis, you know how debilitating this condition can be. Pain in any of the extremities can be a frustrating experience. Foot pain, however, can cause a significant disruption in your day-to-day life that can affect your job performance, daily activities, and overall health. Your feet are a critical part of general wellness.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to manage this injury. Keep reading to learn more about what to do and, more importantly, what not to do with Plantar Fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is a foot injury and one of the most common causes of heel discomfort. The pain is distinct and usually easy to diagnose. You must talk to your doctor any time you experience foot pain. Trying to diagnose it yourself can lead to further injury.
The foot is a complex structure of dozens of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Any part of the foot can become injured, and when it does, it typically affects the entire structure.
Near the back of the foot, just below the heel, a thick band of tissue called the plantar fascia can become inflamed and irritated. This may not seem like a big deal, but it can cause severe pain and lead to further injury if left untreated.
People at Risk
Part of the reason this injury is so common is that it isn't difficult to attain. There are many groups of people that are at risk. Although many people associate this condition with spending a lot of time on your feet, like janitors or athletes, it can also be caused by other factors. Here are some circumstances to take into consideration when diagnosing this issue:
- Biological sex. Biological females are more likely to experience this condition than biological males.
- Weight. Obese people are at higher risk for this injury.
- Age. Middle-aged adults between the age of 40 and 60 are the most likely to experience plantar fasciitis.
- Improper foot position. People that walk with an unusual gate, and the risk of developing this injury.
- Poor footwear. Wearing high heels, shoes with no arch support, and worn-out shoes all have the potential to facilitate plantar fasciitis.
- Other foot deformities. High or low arches and conditions like tight Achilles tendons can make developing this injury more likely.
Diagnosing Plantar Fasciitis
Diagnosing this disease is not difficult, and most of the time, it gets done without invasive procedures or even imaging. Podiatrists see it all the time and can usually spot it right away.
If you are dealing with heel pain and wonder if it could be plantar fasciitis, there are a few telltale signs that help you make a distinction. Here are some of the most common symptoms:
- Pain in the foot, but especially in the heel and sole.
- The pain often gets described as sharp or stabbing.
- It's not uncommon for people to consider the pain the worst in the morning. It might decrease briefly, but excessive use or letting it grow stiff can irritate it again.
Although it isn't wise to diagnose yourself, a doctor shouldn't have much trouble helping you narrow it down. The tricky part is remembering when the symptoms began. Unlike other injuries, no specific event or accident usually causes this condition. It develops over time and takes time to heal.
Things like your medical history can help indicate how likely it is that you have developed this very common injury. Lifestyle and age are also important factors. Then, if physical examination of the foot is typically all that is needed to make the final call. The doctor will likely press on certain points of your foot to locate where the pain is located.
If everything adds up, you should expect to begin treatment for plantar fasciitis.
What Not To Do
Before applying every home remedy you can find, it's essential to look closely at what not to do with plantar fasciitis. Often, it is more important to avoid certain activities for your foot to heal fully.
If you are in pain, your brain lets you know something is wrong. You’ll want to slow down and pay attention to your body's signals. That could mean taking some time off work or sitting out for a while if you are an athlete. Depending on the severity of your injury, you will need to be patient with this process.
Stretch Until It Hurts
Stretching is crucial in healing plantar fasciitis, but overdoing it can be counterproductive. Remember, this injury leads to the information of the tendon near the heel. Doing too much at once only aggravates it further.
Exercises like running and jumping get considered high impact because when the foot strikes against hard surfaces, it creates a lot of pressure on the joints, ligaments, and tendons in the foot and leg. This repeated, striking force will almost certainly worsen the issue.
Get Frugal With Care
Several therapies and treatments can help relieve your pain. Unfortunately, much of what gets marketed is not high-quality or created by specialists that understand this condition. If you get frugal with what therapists you visit or equipment you invest in, you could pay the price by dealing with this injury for even longer.
The worst thing you can do for any injury is to wait to treat it. Early intervention will reduce the severity of the injury, as well as cut down on recovery time significantly. It's crucial to bring concerns to your doctor as soon as you notice them.
What To Do Instead
Once you understand what activities you need to avoid, it's easier to apply treatments to help you feel better. That way, they will be more effective, and you will be on your way to recovery.
Take It Easy
The most important thing you can do for any injury is to be patient and give it time. With long-term conditions like this, the recovery process might take longer than usual and will require a commitment to good habits.
Try an Anti-inflammatory
Inflammation is the main culprit for pain with plantar fasciitis. Taking some over-the-counter pain reliever is a great way to help reduce inflammation and bring some comfort. Be careful about which over-the-counter medication to select, and make sure to talk to a doctor before taking anything new.
Ice and Elevate
There's a good reason why ice and elevation is still a reliable treatment for swelling. By elevating the injury above the heart, there will be less blood flow to the area. The cold from ice constricts blood vessels, which will also slow down circulation and subsequently bring down inflammation.
Gentle Stretching and Physical Therapy
Gentle stretching, along with other therapy, is a proven method for helping reduce inflammation and increase range of motion. You may even be sent home with a brace or heel inserts to wear. The hope is strengthening and lengthening the ligament will help you regain normal function. It's important to apply any techniques or therapies your doctor recommends and be consistent.
Treat Underlying Conditions
Plantar fasciitis is an injury, meaning there is nearly always an underlying cause or condition for this inflammation. Dealing with things like a poor gait or inappropriate footwear is the only way to make sure you defeat this condition for good.
Consider Steroid Injections, Surgery, or Other Methods
Noninvasive treatments like over-the-counter pain medication and physical therapy are effective. But sometimes, more strenuous medical intervention is necessary. In some severe cases, steroid injections or surgery can be helpful.
It's critical to keep in mind, however, that these treatments come with additional risks and should get discussed with a professional.
Invest in Quality Equipment
When it comes to your physical health, it's worth it to invest in the highest quality products. Orthotics and other tools like inserts can significantly affect comfort levels. Finding a plantar fasciitis brace that can improve your quality of life is a price worth paying.
For anyone dealing with plantar fasciitis, it can be an incredibly frustrating experience to get back into working condition. Fortunately, most people who consistently put the work in and treat the situation will find relief.
The key is to remember to be patient and trust the process. Once you have recovered, you must take steps to prevent this affliction from returning.
Some injuries can mimic the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. It is vital to keep an eye out for these so that one thing doesn’t get accidentally treated as another.
Achilles tendonitis is very similar and will cause pain in some of the same places on your foot. Arthritis can also be highly misleading because it is another form of inflammation in the joints.
If the pain and swelling on your foot are so severe that you cannot walk without substantial pain, you might consider asking for imaging. Stress fractures can also seem like plantar fasciitis.
This injury is certainly a pain, but understanding how to deal with it can help make you less miserable. Knowing what to do and what not to do with plantar fasciitis can help get you on the road to recovery.