Healing the Plantar Heel Pain

Do you experience pain in your heel when you’re awake and even after a long night of rest? This is what call plantar heel pain.

Heel pain is a very common foot problem. It is usually felt on the underside or the back of the heel. In most cases, this is caused by a thick band of tissue in the foot, called the plantar fascia, becomes damaged and thickens.

What is Plantar Heel Pain or Plantar Fasciitis?

Usually, plantar fasciitis sufferers feel stabbing pain within the first few steps after waking up. The pain and stiffness usually decrease after a while but it gets worse again after walking or standing for a long time.

Why Plantar Fasciitis Happens?

Plantar fascia’s function is to support the arch of our foot. It also acts as a shock-absorber in our foot. Thus, plantar fasciitis occurs when these tissues are overstretched or overused. The likelihood of injuring the plantar fascia increases if you:

  • Walk, run or stand for a long period of time
  • Wear shoes with poor cushioning or poor arch support
  • Are overweight or have gained weight suddenly
  • Have foot arch problem such as flat feet and high arches
  • Have tight calf muscles or Achilles tendon

How do You Know if You Have Plantar Fasciitis?

The symptoms are basically pain and stiffness:

  • On the bottom of the heel
  • In the arch of the foot
  • That is usually worse upon waking up
  • That increases over a period of months

How is Plantar Fasciitis Diagnosed?

It is usually diagnosed through physical examination. X-ray or ultrasounds of the fascia may be needed to rule out other possible causes of heel pain.

What are the Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar heel pain - plantar fasciitisNon-surgical treatments include:

  • Heel, foot and calf muscle stretching exercises
  • Avoid going barefoot
  • Ice or cold therapy
  • Limit activities for at least one week
  • Shoe modifications such as heel pad and medial arch support
  • Pain relief medications
  • Night splints while sleeping to stretch the foot
  • Reduce body weight
  • Timely injection of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) according to doctor’s recommendation

Is Prevention the Key to Pain-Free Heel?

For long-term care of your heel, preventive measures can help to keep the condition from getting worse:

  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese
  • Always stretch your foot especially before excercise
  • Avoid exercising on hard surfaces
  • If you do any sports, change your shoes regularly
  • Wear shoes with good support in the arch and cushioning in the heels

Written by: Dr Shashini Asokumaran