That sharp, stabbing pain in your heel when you stand up or walk could be a sign of plantar fasciitis. This is a common condition that podiatrists in Chicago can treat effectively with conservative methods or possibly surgical intervention. Since the pain isn’t likely to go away without treatment, schedule an exam right away.
What is the plantar fascia?
Fascia is a band of tough, fibrous connective tissue. In the foot, the affected fascia connects the toes to the heel bone. It extends along the bottom of the foot. This tissue can become inflamed and irritated, which is diagnosed as plantar fasciitis.
This inflammation causes the characteristic pain in the heel, which tends to be the worst first thing in the morning, as well as after long periods of inactivity or standing.
Why do I have plantar fasciitis?
A foot doctor will ask you some questions about your physical activity level, lifestyle, and medical history to determine the most likely reason for your pain. Plantar fasciitis is particularly common among runners. However, it can also affect people who lead a sedentary lifestyle, especially if they are overweight or obese.
Other risk factors include:
- Being female
- Having very high arches or flat feet
- Wearing worn-out shoes with inadequate support
- Will stretching help?
Stretching is one of the conservative treatments your podiatrist will likely recommend. The doctor can show you how to gently stretch the heel cord and foot arch with several different stretches, which you should do every day for optimal results.
What other treatments are available?
Until the pain subsides, your podiatrist will likely advise you to keep weight off the affected foot as much as possible. Apply an ice pack several times per day for no longer than 20 minutes at a time. Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may also help reduce the inflammation and ease your pain.
Additionally, plantar fasciitis patients typically benefit from a change in footwear, the use of shoe inserts or custom orthotics, and the use of a night splint.
Can a podiatrist correct the problem surgically?
Surgery isn’t frequently performed for plantar fasciitis, as podiatrists prefer to treat the problem as conservatively as possible. However, if you’ve tried all available nonsurgical treatments, and your pain hasn’t gone away, you could talk to the doctor about whether surgery might be appropriate.