If you have noticed that you have a sharp, stabbing pain in your foot when you first awaken, you may have plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain and can affect anyone. On the bottom of your foot, a long band of tissue connects your toes to your heel bone. This tissue is called your plantar fascia. When this becomes inflamed, it is called plantar fasciitis.
The pain feels like a sharp stabbing in your heel or on the sole of your foot. The pain is often worse in the morning, or after a long period of sitting. It does not flare during exercise, but after exercising you may feel it come back again.
Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
Your doctor may not be able to pinpoint the exact cause of your plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia supports your arch and absorbs shock. Your feet are the foundation of your entire body. They carry all of your weight and have to maintain balance and agility. This means they end up enduring a lot of abuse throughout the day. When the plantar fascia is repeatedly stretched too far or has too much to absorb, small tears can develop. Next, this tissue becomes inflamed, leading to the stabbing pain known as plantar fasciitis.
Age, obesity, and the type of work you do can all increase your likelihood of having plantar fasciitis. In addition, hobbies such as dancing or long-distance running can also put extra stress on this band. If you have high arches in your foot or are flat-footed, this affects the way you walk and can lead to plantar fasciitis.
Doctors will not normally order any type of imaging to diagnose plantar fasciitis. Diagnosis is based on symptoms and the location of your pain. Your physician may want an x-ray done just to rule out other causes of pain. Untreated plantar fasciitis can lead to bone spurs, which will show up on an x-ray. In general, though, unless used to rule out other causes, you should not need an x-ray for a diagnosis of plantar fasciitis.
Treating Plantar Fasciitis
Doctors generally recommend a conservative approach to treating plantar fasciitis. This means taking over-the-counter pain and inflammation relievers, such as ibuprofen or naproxen. You can also apply ice to the inflamed area and rest the foot to alleviate the pain. There are also stretches that you can do at home. One common and very effective exercise is to roll a cold can of frozen juice under your foot. The rolling motion stretches and strengthens the plantar fascia, while the coldness of the can alleviates the pain.
If you need more help than just exercising at home, or if your pain is making it difficult to function, your doctor may prescribe physical therapy. A therapist will teach you how to do the exercises and probably push you more than you would do on your own. They can also teach you how to do athletic taping. Another treatment option is wearing special supports or placing custom orthotics in your shoes.
If conservative approaches are not working, your doctor may recommend injections of either a steroid or a platelet-rich plasma. With an ultrasound guiding the injections, these can provide relief from the pain without risking a rupture of the tissue.
Extracorporal sound wave therapy, where sound waves are directed at the plantar fascia, may also be used. This procedure stimulates blood flow in the injured area. Increased blood flow can help tissues to heal. It can also stun the nerves to decrease the pain. A minimally invasive procedure called the Tenex procedure can eliminate some of the scarring associated with plantar fasciitis.
Some incidences of plantar fasciitis may go away on their own without intervention. If the inflammation does not subside, it can cause more debilitating pain. You will naturally walk differently in an attempt to alleviate the pain, which can lead to knee, back, and hip problems in the future.
If you’ve been noticing stabbing fain in your foot, it’s a good idea to see your doctor. Caught in time, pain from plantar fasciitis can be greatly improved.