Did you know that plantar fasciitis can leave you with heel pain and arch pain? And do you know what causes plantar fasciitis, how it causes discomfort, and what you can do to find relief?  Here’s what you need to know. 

Understanding plantar fasciitis 

Plantar fasciitis describes an injury caused by overstraining your plantar fascia. (That’s a band of fibrous, connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, from the heel to the forefoot.) When it’s healthy and uninjured, the fascia works to support the arch of your foot. However, when it comes under pressure, the tissue can degrade, allowing inflammation or even minor tears to develop. Quickly, you’ll notice distinctive symptoms such as stabbing heel pain that’s worst when you first wake up in the morning. But, as it turns out, arch pain is also a tell-tale symptom of this condition. And this is why. 

How plantar fasciitis causes heel pain and arch pain person holding foot with heel pain and arch pain

In our Massapequa, NY podiatry practice, heel pain is one of the most common complaints that brings patients into the office. And plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of that heel pain. Typically, we hear patients telling us their heel pain is awful in the morning, but that it gradually improves throughout the day. Now, that is a classic plantar fasciitis symptom. The heel pain is worst in the morning because your plantar fascia tenses up overnight. And it gets better throughout the day as it loosens up with movement. But heel pain is not the only symptom of plantar fasciitis to watch for. With this condition, you may also experience: 

•    Sharp, stabbing or achy pain on the bottom of your foot, near your heel 
•    Aching or burning arch pain, since the plantar fascia runs through your arch and may not provide sufficient support if the tissue is degraded or inflamed
•    Heel pain and arch pain that gets worse after you climb the stairs or wrap up a workout 
•    Skin that’s tender to the touch, particularly near your heel 
•    Foot stiffness or difficulty with movement, especially after long periods of inactivity

Causes and Prevention

Especially for active individuals, there are many different ways to overload your plantar fascia, resulting in inflammation, heel pain and arch pain.  So, what are some of the most common causes of plantar fasciitis? 

•    Repetitive use injuries, especially from high impact activities that involve lots of running and jumping
•    Suddenly increasing your training intensity, length or frequency, in any sport or athletic activity 
•    Long-distance running, downhill running, or running on uneven surfaces
•    Gaining weight or going through pregnancy 
•    Having a high-arched foot
•    Having flat feet
•    Choosing unsupportive sneakers, or wearing sneakers that need replacing 

Clearly, there are a lot of ways you can injure your plantar fascia. But luckily, this condition is actually easier to prevent than you might imagine. First, make sure to carefully choose your shoes based on your foot shape and physical activity levels. Also, if you’re very active, or engaging in high-impact activities, consider adding a medical grade insole to your shoes for extra shock absorption and support. Or, if you have flat feet or feet with high arches, you may benefit from the additional support and injury protection provided by a custom orthotic device. 

Now, even with the perfect sneakers for your feet, you have to pay careful attention to your training routine if you want to prevent plantar fasciitis. For starters, make sure you’re incorporating plenty of stretching into your weekly routines. (This study shows that if you stretch regularly over an eight-week period, you can actually treat existing plantar fasciitis symptoms, while further reducing your risk for future problems.) 

Of course, stretching is important for all sorts of injury prevention. But if you are particularly concerned about fighting heel pain and arch pain, makes sure to stretch out your calf muscles and foot muscles (you can do this by pulling your toes back toward your face) on a daily basis. 

Treating Heel Pain and Arch Pain in Massapequa

While we always prefer to focus on injury prevention, Dr. Mark Gasparini and Dr. Novneet Chhabra are also prepared to offer a variety of treatment options to relieve your discomfort. To begin with, we will likely suggest taking a break from high intensity physical activities such as running or playing sports such as tennis or basketball. Right away, this will take some pressure off your plantar fascia, allowing some of the inflammation to calm down. 

Next, we will advise you to ice your foot every day, further helping relieve pain and inflammation. Aim for at least three icing sessions each day, with each one lasting for 20 minutes (but not longer.) During this period, we will also provide suggestions for daily stretches, and may provide additional pain relief and support in the form of night splints or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).  

Will plantar fasciitis ever go away on its own? 

Today, more and more patients prefer to avoid invasive treatment options, allowing their bodies to heal naturally. And, in theory, the heel pain and arch pain of plantar fasciitis may resolve on its own, without intervention. However, even if that does happen, the healing process could take months or years. And, in our opinion, that’s just too long a time period! 

However, there is good news for all our plantar fasciitis sufferers. As you just read, most of the heel pain and arch pain treatments we provide in our Nassau County podiatry practice are non or minimally invasive. Plus, they provide faster pain relief and recovery times. And they can help protect you from future plantar fasciitis flare ups. 

Want to stay active and enjoy all your favorite Spring activities? Don’t miss out on enjoying the gorgeous Spring weather in New York because you’re dealing with an injury. Instead, reach out to our office at the first sign of discomfort. We’ll provide you with the fastest possible pain relief and help protect you from future problems! 

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