If you experience stabbing pain near the bottom of the heel don’t hesitate to call and Schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists as soon as possible
Foot and Ankle specialists often attribute one of the most common causes of heel pain to a condition known as Plantar fasciitis, also called Heel Spurs or Bone Spurs. It occurs when the band of tissue that runs longways on the underside of the foot (the plantar fascia) suffers inflammation and pain.
Patients with Plantar fasciitis report a stabbing pain that occurs with their first steps in the morning. As patients get up and move around, the pain tends to decrease, but may return after long periods of standing or when standing immediately after sitting.
Plantar fasciitis occurs more commonly with runners. Overweight patients who wear poorly supported shoes also have an increased risk of plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis typically feels like a stabbing pain near the bottom of the heel. The pain usually gets worse during the first few steps after waking up in the morning, although it may also trigger from long periods of standing or when standing up after sitting. The pain usually gets worse after exercise. Patients attempting to avoid plantar fasciitis pain will often offset their weight to the outer edges of the foot, increasing the likelihood of an ankle sprain.
The plantar fascia itself consists of a strip of tissue that stretches from the heel all the way to the ball of the foot. It acts as a shock absorber for the foot when walking, and helps maintain the shape of the foot. Over time, stressing the fascia leads to the formation of tiny tears in the tissue, which can lead to inflammation and pain. Specialists urge patients to not ignore plantar fasciitis, as it can lead to worse heel pain that can interfere with daily life. Patients suffering from plantar fasciitis also have a higher risk of developing problems in other parts of the body due to the changes patients make to their walking posture to avoid heel pain.
Luckily, specialists can diagnose Plantar fasciitis fairly easily, only requiring a brief medical history and examination at the clinic. Your physician will physically check your foot for tender areas, and usually will not require further diagnostic testing unless additional symptoms suggest the need for an MRI or X-ray to rule out a fracture.
Many patients with plantar fasciitis recover in a few months after using conservative treatment, which includes:
- Losing weight. Reducing the weight carried by the feet can relieve pressure on the plantar fascia and contribute to lessening pain.
- Wearing supportive shoes. Shoes with low heels, thick soles, arch support and cushioning.
- Changing sports. Switching to a low-impact sport, such as swimming or bicycling, can help Plantar Fasciitis.
- Applying Ice to the area. Apply an ice pack on the affected area for 15 minutes three or four times a day to reduce inflammation.
- Stretching the arches. Simple exercises can help stretch your plantar fascia, Achilles tendon and calf muscles.
Taking NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium (Aleve) may help ease pain and inflammation caused by plantar fasciitis.
If conservative measures fail to provide relief from Plantar Fasciitis after several months, Foot and Ankle Specialists may recommend:
- Injections. Physicians can temporarily provide major pain relief to an area by Injecting steroid medication into the inflamed tissue. Specialists may use an Ultrasound machine to precisely target an area for better outcomes.
- Surgery. Some patients will end up requiring surgery in order to detach the plantar fascia from the heel bone. Specialists tend to only resort to surgery after all other conservative treatments have failed. Surgeons can perform a Plantar Fasciotomy as an open procedure or through a small incision with local anesthesia.