Heel Pain: Plantar fasciitis treatment

Plantar fasciitis is an all-too-common malady that can afflict even the healthiest among us.  It is an injury to the ligament on the bottom of the foot (the plantar fascia).  The pain can be debilitating at times, limiting your ability to walk or stand.  The good news is that plantar fasciitis is treatable!

First, it helps to understand what causes plantar fasciitis.  It is a repetitive-use type injury that is often related to a bone spur on the heel.  The bone spur itself does not hurt, but the friction it causes on the plantar fascia causes inflammation, which causes pain.  When you are off your feet for a while (sitting at your desk or in your recliner, or lying in bed) the plantar fascia ligament tightens up.  Then when you put weight on your foot as you stand up, the bone spur puts a large amount of pressure on a tight ligament, thus causing pain and inflammation.  This is why your pain may be worse when you first get up in the morning, then lessen as you are on your feet during the day.  Repeated micro-injury to the ligament continues to escalate without proper attention.

Your podiatrist will have many treatments available to address this type of injury.  Some of the most conservative treatments are things you can do on your own.  Start with changing your shoe gear or adding a good shoe insert with proper arch support.  If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, you should always wear shoe gear with good arch support.  This also means never going barefoot.  Maintaining the arch will help the plantar fascia to heal and to remain healed.  You should also make it a habit to stretch your feet before you step out of bed and before you stand up from your chair if you have been sitting for a while.  To do this, point your toes up and down, and rotate your feet both clockwise and counter-clockwise.  You can do these exercises multiple times per day, but don’t forget to do them before you put any weight on your feet in the morning.

Rolling your foot on a frozen water bottle while seated can help to relieve pain and swelling.  Be sure to wear socks when you do this.  You don’t want to cause frost bite on your skin.

There are also medical-grade devices available through your podiatrist’s office to help support your feet so that they can heal properly.  Dr. Ashton often prescribes oral anti-inflammatories and may recommend anti-inflammatory injections to help calm the irritated ligament and nerve endings.

If conservative methods do not resolve your pain, there are surgical procedures that may be considered.  Radio-frequency ablation of the nerve endings can be used to calm the pain.  This is done in the office using a specialized machine to perform a procedure known as Podiatherm.  If all other treatment options have been eliminated, Dr. Ashton may recommend a surgical procedure called excision of heel spur with plantar fasciotomy.  Only a very small percentage of patients actually need this surgery.  Almost all cases of plantar fasciitis are resolved with the more conservative treatments available.

So, if you are one of the millions of humans who experience the burning, stabbing pain of plantar fasciitis/heel spur syndrome, there is hope!  Call Ashton Podiatry today to make an appointment to get the help you need!