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.
Many patients with plantar fasciitis recover in a few months after using conservative treatment, which includes:
- Losing weight.
- 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. Steroid injections into the affected area can provide temporary pain relief. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections may also promote tissue healing.
- 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.