Has this ever happened to you? You finally manage to get a great 8 hours of sleep, you wake up rested and ready to tackle the new day. Then, with your very first step out of bed, you experience a sudden sharp pain in your heel. How?! You’ve been asleep all night, right? Or have you been running a sleep walking marathon? What could possibly be causing this sudden onset of pain in your foot?
The culprit is most likely a very common foot problem, plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is when the thick band of tissue in your arch that attaches your toes to your heel, called the plantar fascia, is inflammed. This inflammation can be caused by a variety of things, from simple oversuse, to unsupportive shoes, to a sports injury. The pain can have a sudden onset, or can increase over a longer period of time. Plantar fasciitis is more common with individuals that have flat feet, high arches, or excessive pronation (when the foot rolls inward during walking or standing) and can be exacerbated by obesity.
Fortunately, if treated early, most of the painful symptoms of plantar fasciitis can be easily controlled with over the counter NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen or aspirin) as well as stretching exercises aimed at strengthening foot muscles. Most podiatrists with recommend not only a change in shoe gear, into a more supportive shoe, but also many will recommend an orthotic insert to help support the arch and relieve excessive stress on the fascia. Several treatment methods can be used for plantar fasciitis. Steroid injections aim to reduce inflammation, but may cause some initial pain at the site of the injection for 24-72 hours. A night splint is a medical device worn during sleep to keep the foot in a stretched position. Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy is a treatment in which the patient’s blood is drawn, the platelets are separated out, and a platelet rich plasma is injected back into the patients fascia in order to aide and speed up healing.
As with many foot problems, plantar fasciitis is the most easily treated with early intervention. If a patient seeks professional treatment at early onset then they have a much easier and faster recovery period. If plantar fasciitis is left untreated for long periods it can worsen as scar tissue can build up on the plantar fascia. So the sooner you visit your podiatrist the easier it is for them to treat you and get you back on your feet again, pain free.