Plantar Fasciitis is a common but painful foot condition that affects many people. It involves the inflammation of the tissues on the bottom of your foot and heel. If you're an athlete, runner, hiker, or any type of person who's very active, you have a greater than average chance of developing this problem. The most obvious symptom of plantar fasciitis is heel pain as the condition targets the arch of the foot. Since this is a repetitive motion type of injury, it often gets worse when you continue to stress the affected area. Unfortunately, it's hard to stay off your feet so many people end up living with chronic pain. There are ways to treat and prevent plantar fasciitis.
Symptoms and Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
Foot pain is a common symptom, especially among active people. Not all foot pain, of course, is caused by plantar fasciitis, which targets the area under the heel or arch of the foot. One of the most typical symptoms of this condition is a stabbing heel pain when you first wake up in the morning. While the pain usually starts at the heel, it may also move down the foot. You may also notice that the pain is worse after you've been sitting or inactive for a long time, such as at work if you sit at a desk. Walking around and moving usually causes the pain to diminish. In some cases, however, movement or standing for long periods may cause the pain to return.
The cause of plantar fasciitis is overuse or overstretching the area known as the plantar fascia. People who are most prone to this type of injury include runners, walkers, hikers, basketball players, dancers, and people who are on their feet for long stretches of time (e.g. kitchen workers, nurses). Of course, not everyone who is on their feet a great deal develops this condition. There are other contributing factors, such as uncomfortable footwear, poor posture and prior injuries to the feet, knees, or other lower extremities. Being overweight also puts extra pressure on the feet, so this can also be a factor. Some people have a predisposition to plantar fasciitis due to the shape of their bones.
If you have foot pain, the first step is to get your condition properly diagnosed by a doctor. There are a variety of conditions that can produce similar symptoms. Heel pain may also be caused by gout, rheumatoid arthritis, neuropathy, and other conditions so it's important to understand the cause of your symptoms in order to come up with the best treatment plan.
Treating Plantar Fasciitis With PRICE
If you've been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, your first goal is to reduce the pain and inflammation. Many doctors and physical therapists recommend the PRICE approach to treating sports injuries, including plantar fasciitis. This consists of protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Let's see how each of these come into play when treating this condition.
- Protection - To prevent further injury, protect the bottom of your foot. This can be done with bandages and wraps. In severe cases, a doctor or other medical professional should wrap the area with a cast or precision splint.
- Rest - This is one of the most important aspects of recovery though also one that's difficult for many people to remember. With plantar fasciitis, it's seldom necessary to stay off your feet completely. What matters is taking a break from activities that will further strain the area. This usually means the activity that caused it in the first place. For athletes or anyone who works out frequently, this means adjusting your workouts while you're healing.
- Ice - Ice is a simple and time-tested way to treat inflammation and it's very effective at reducing pain and swelling caused by plantar fasciitis. Applying an ice pack to the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes several times per day is one of the best ways to facilitate healing. Make sure your skin is protected; never apply ice directly to the skin but use a cloth or other barrier. After the first 48 hours, alternate with hot treatments.
- Compression - This principle overlaps with the first one, protection, as it involves wrapping and bandaging the area. Pressure helps to reduce inflammation. At the same time, don't wrap the area too tightly, as this can cause additional pain.
- Elevation - Elevating the foot is another simple yet effective way to accelerate healing. By placing the foot at a higher elevation, you're giving the fluid a chance to drain away from this area and swelling is reduced. You can do this by placing the foot on a stack of pillows, hassock, or any piece of furniture as lie in bed or in a chair.
PRICE provides a reliable set of guidelines for dealing with plantar fasciitis. There are, however, other possible treatments that your doctor might recommend. You might take over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin or Tylenol. Medications such as Advil, which contains ibuprofen, are anti-inflammatory as well as effective against pain. In severe cases, your doctor might prescribe strong medications.
Rehabilitation and Prevention
Once you've succeeded in reducing the pain and inflammation of plantar fasciitis, your goal is to gradually return to your regular activities without this painful condition recurring. This is a delicate balance, as resuming a strenuous regimen right away can sometimes trigger a recurrence. Here are some tips to keep in mind during the rehabilitation process.
- Focus on stretching and range-of-motion exercises. These are very important for keeping your foot limber and better able to accommodate motion and weight. There are some special stretches and rehabilitation exercises you can do to speed up healing and reduce the chances of recurrences. Calf raises, for example, are very good for stretching and strengthening the tendons in your calf muscles and heels.
- Continue to use ice and heat. Apply heat before exercising and ice afterward to prevent inflammation. Foot massages, as well as foot massaging devices and foot baths, can also help.
- Pay attention to your body. If you feel pain or discomfort in your heel, stop exercising. It's better to make slow and steady progress than to risk a relapse that could set you back for a longer period.
- Enlist help. Keep your doctor or physical therapist aware of your condition and always listen to his or her advice. This is also a good time to workout with a buddy, especially someone who's experienced with your type of injury.
- Pay extra attention to your footwear. Wearing more comfortable or better-fitting may help to prevent plantar fasciitis in the future. Inserts and arch supports can also help.
- Make adjustments to your workout. Your gait or posture when you run or walk can contribute to plantar fasciitis. A good physical therapist can recommend changes to help you prevent recurrences.
Plantar Fasciitis: Only a Short-term Setback
Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition that can really impede your progress when it comes to sports, fitness, or even functioning in everyday life. You should not, however, think of it as anything more than a temporary setback. If you're experiencing plantar fasciitis, you're far from alone. It's simply one of the consequences of pushing your body to its limits. Today, there are many treatments and methods for reducing the pain, accelerating healing, and preventing recurrences. There's no reason you can't make a full recovery and soon return to your normal workouts, with perhaps a few adjustments.
PFTape® Plantar Fasciitis Pain Relief System
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