Are your heels in pain? There are many possible causes, but among American adults, the most common culprit is a condition known as plantar fasciitis.
While many cases of plantar fasciitis will go away on their own with rest and stretching at home, others require more aggressive treatment. If heel pain is severe, keeping you from your favorite activities, lingers longer than a week, or keeps returning, you should always seek professional help.
The good news is that, at Rainier Foot & Ankle Associates, we offer a wide range of effective treatment options, including many of the latest and most advanced conservative approaches. This has allowed us to cure heel pain without surgery in more than 95 percent of our patients with plantar fasciitis!
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is the result of inflammation or an injury to the plantar fascia, a thick band of ligament-like tissue that runs from your heel to your toes.
The plantar fascia is primarily responsible for supporting the arch and absorbing impact forces. However, when it is overstressed it may start to stretch and tear near where it inserts into the heel bone.
Although plantar fasciitis can be difficult to differentiate from other types of heel pain based on symptoms alone, some of the most common signs include:
- A stabbing pain in the bottom of your heel, or slightly in front of it (just behind the arch).
- Pain that is especially intense when you first get out of bed, or get up after a lengthy rest.
- Pain that worsens after a period of exercise or activity (although not necessarily during activity)
- Tenderness when pushing or pressing on the bottom of the heel
Why Did I Get Plantar Fasciitis?
The fundamental cause of plantar fasciitis is overuse of the plantar fascia. When the fascia is exposed to excessive or repetitive impact forces beyond what it can bear, it starts to weaken and break down.
There are a wide range of possible contributing factors—too many to fully list here. However, some of the most common include:
- Wearing shoes that don’t properly support the arch and heel.
- Occupations that require a lot of standing or walking.
- Sports or other active hobbies that require a lot of running and jumping, especially if you don’t give your feet enough rest time in your training schedule.
- Abnormal foot structures that increase the stress load on the plantar fascia, such as flat feet or high arches.
- Abnormal gait mechanics, which can also increase the load on the plantar fascia. Overpronation is one typical example. Another is having legs of different lengths.
- Having excessively tight Achilles tendons or calf muscles.
- Being overweight or obese.
Identifying which contributing factors are most responsible for your plantar fasciitis helps our team determine which treatment and preventative care measures are going to be most effective for your situation.
What Can I Do About My Plantar Fasciitis?
At Rainier Foot & Ankle Associates, we provide a comprehensive range of treatments designed to alleviate the pain of even the most serious and chronic cases of plantar fasciitis.
Certainly, mild to moderate cases of plantar fasciitis can often be treated successfully using traditional, “low tech” treatment methods. It may be that all you really require is a new and more supportive pair of shoes, splints to wear at night, and a program of stretches and exercises to perform at home. If that’s the case for you, we’ll happily make that recommendation.
However, rest assured that if your plantar fasciitis is a little bit tougher to deal with, we have options for you. This includes state-of-the-art conservative modalities, including:
- MLS laser therapy. Our therapeutic laser system can help relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and accelerate natural tissue healing over a series of brief sessions spaced out over a few weeks.
- Amniotic tissue injections. As with MLS therapy, this helps fight inflammation and accelerate the healing processes within damaged soft tissues.
- Extracorporeal pulse activation technology (EPAT). A form of “shockwave therapy,” EPAT uses pressure waves to break up scar tissue and stimulate soft tissue healing.
- Arch supports or orthotics. Don’t trust your feet to a flimsy arch support snagged from a pharmacy rack—even if a fancy kiosk “picked it out” for you. We carry a line of our own prefabricated orthotics as well as prescribe custom orthotics, and will make sure you get the right pair for your feet.
Because of these and other advanced procedures we have at our disposal, we can resolve the vast majority of plantar fasciitis cases within a few months of your initial visit. Only about 1 in 20 cases ultimately requires a surgical procedure to release the plantar fascia.
If you are currently suffering through the pain of plantar fasciitis—or any other foot or ankle problem—please make an appointment with Rainier Foot & Ankle Associates at your earliest convenience. We can surround you with the knowledge, experience, and tools you need to get better as quickly as possible.