Heel pain? When to see a doctor.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. Personally, I experienced this in Podiatry school after jumping into a new running program too quickly. It can be a painful condition. Fortunately, in my case, it resolved with a few simple treatments in the matter of several weeks.
What is plantar fasciitis? It is inflammation of a band of tissue, the plantar fascial ligament. This ligament extends from the heel to the toes. It commonly causes a stabbing pain that is worse with the first few steps in the morning. The pain normally decreases with movement but can return with long episodes of standing or after sitting then returning to standing.
- High impact exercise such as running, jumping, and walking
- People who have problems with their arches, either overly flat feet or high arched feet
- Weight gain
- Wearing non-supportive shoes
When to See a Doctor
Heel pain can be due to several causes such as a stress fracture, arthritis, tendonitis, nerve irritation, or a cyst. It is important to see a foot and ankle surgeon to determine the cause of the heel pain so the proper treatment can be started. At the appointment, a medical history and an examination are performed. An x-ray of the foot may also be performed.
Symptoms usually resolve more quickly when the time between the beginning of symptoms and the beginning of treatment is shorter.
At home treatment
- Resting and staying of off your feet
- Icing the foot 15-20 minutes three times per day
- Taking anti-inflammatory medications such as Aleve or ibuprofen
- Performing stretching exercises
Doctor's office treatment
- Getting fitted for a night splint to stretch the plantar fascia when sleeping
- Referral for custom orthotics to provide proper arch support
- Injections with steroid injections
- Immobilization in a walking boot
- Referral to Physical Therapy
- Most patients get better with non-surgical treatment, but some patients will go on to need surgery
Even if the pain improves the underlying causes of plantar fasciitis may remain. You will need to continue preventative measures including: supportive shoes, stretching, and custom orthotics.
If you have questions about foot pain set up a personalized consultation with Dr. Megan Wilder at The Everett Clinic. Dr. Wilder is board certified in Foot and Ankle Surgery. To schedule an appointment call, 206-401-3169.
DISCLAIMER: The contents and opinions expressed by Everett Clinic teammates and providers on “A Healthier You” blog and those providing comments are theirs alone and are not a substitute for medical advice. Consult your own provider for personal health recommendations.
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