Did you know that plantar fasciitis can cause you to experience heel pain and arch pain? But what is plantar fasciitis and why does it develop? How can it cause pain in so many parts of your foot?  And how can we treat your feet and provide pain relief in our Medford, OR podiatry practice! We’ll answer these questions and more, all in today’s post.  

Understanding plantar fasciitis

What is plantar fasciitis? This condition develops when you strain or overstretch the plantar fascia. (That’s a fibrous band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot.) Within your body, the plantar fascia provides support to your arch. But when it comes under pressure, it gets overstretched, over strain and inflamed, possibly even developing small tears due to degradation. And, once that happens, you may experience heel pain and arch pain, along with several other intrusive symptoms. 

Why does plantar fasciitis cause both heel pain and arch pain? A foot with heel pain and arch pain

When it comes to identifying symptoms of plantar fasciitis, heel pain is usually the one we talk about the most. Perhaps that’s because the first symptom most patients living with this condition experience is usually excruciating heel pain in the morning, right when they get out of bed. Initially, it gets better as you move throughout your day. However, without intervention, that plantar fasciitis-related heel pain could become a chronic, all-day problem. And, while that heel pain is the most common plantar fasciitis symptom, others include: 

•    Pain on the bottom of your foot, near your heel (It could be aching and dull or stabbing and sharp) 
•    Arch pain that burns or aches (Since the plantar fascia runs from your heel through your foot, and is supposed to support the arch, any issues with the band of tissue can cause both heel pain and arch pain.) 
•    Pain that worsens when you climb the stairs, or after you finish an exercise session. 
•    Foot tenderness or stiffness, especially after you’ve been sedentary for an extended period of time

What causes plantar fasciitis? 

Several different factors can strain and inflame your plantar fascia, leading to heel pain and arch pain. Some of the most common causes include: 

•    Repetitive, high impact movements such as running or jumping 
•    A sudden, dramatic increase in your activity level
•    Long distance running
•    Running downhill, or on uneven surfaces 
•    Gaining weight, even due to pregnancy, since the extra pounds put additional pressure on your plantar fascia 
•    The structure of your foot—both flat feet and high-arched feet increase the risk for plantar fascia 
•    Your shoe choice—problems begin if your footwear is worn down or lacking in support 
•    Tightness in your Achilles tendon or calves 

Preventing heel pain and arch pain 

If you want to prevent plantar fasciitis, you can start by making better shoe choices. Make sure to look for styles that have plenty of arch support, to evenly distribute your body weight across your foot, helping you to avoid overloading your plantar fascia. You should also make sure the shoes are cushioned in the heels and the forefoot, to take stress off your plantar fascia by providing plenty of shock absorption. (If the shoe’s existing padding is insufficient, you can even add additional heel pads to the shoes. This will further reduce strain on your fascia by elevating your heel and providing additional shock absorption.) 

Many patients will still experience heel and arch pain, even with well-appointed footwear. In these cases, we can fit you with custom orthotics. These are medical devices that are designed to support your unique foot structure. As such, they can compensate for foot shapes that increase your risk for plantar fasciitis. 

Now, even with the right foot gear, you should also incorporate stretching into your routine to prevent plantar fasciitis. In fact, according to this study, with just eight weeks of daily stretching, you can reduce existing plantar fasciitis pain and prevent a new flare up from occurring. And, while all stretching can be beneficial, focusing on your feet and calf muscles is crucial to preventing heel pain and arch pain. 

Treatment options 

If you need plantar fasciitis relief, our podiatrists in Medford can provide you with several treatment options. To begin with, we’ll recommend giving your plantar fascia a break, putting a pause on high impact activities such as running to allow your plantar fascia to heal. But don’t worry—you’ll still be able to get around, we’ll just steer you toward lower impact activities like swimming or bike riding. 

When you’re experiencing acute heel pain and arch pain, we’ll suggest icing the affected area every day, for 20 minutes, several times a day. You can apply an ice pack directly to your foot, or try putting a water bottle in your freezer and rolling it along the bottom of your foot each day. 

Make sure to stretch every day, placing an emphasis on your feet and calf muscles. You may even benefit from physical therapy if your plantar fasciitis pain is severe, or you don’t feel comfortable stretching on your own. We can also recommend wearing a night splint, since this device will help keep your plantar fascia stretched out while you sleep, preventing you from experiencing heel pain first thing in the morning. 

If you need further help managing your pain, we can recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen, since they can also help calm inflammation and speed up your recovery process. 

Of course, even if you don’t treat your pain and inflammation, plantar fasciitis may go away on its own. But without intervention, healing could take at least a year, if not longer, which is far too long to wait for pain relief. 

For that reason, we suggest calling the office and booking an appointment as soon as you experience heel pain or arch pain. When we catch plantar fasciitis in its early stages,  we can provide fast relief, with minimally invasive treatment options, so make sure to reach out to us today! 

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