Eliminate Foot Pain: How to Treat Plantar Fasciitis

Don't let this uncomfortable condition knock you off your feet

People with plantar fasciitis often feel a sharp, burning sensation in the heel

Plantar Fasciitis can be incredibly painful if left untreated. Here’s how to go toe to toe with this pesky foot condition

One of the most common sources of foot pain is a condition called plantar fasciitis – a painful inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is the thick band of tissue on the bottom of the foot that connects the heel bone to the toes and supports the arch of the foot.

The pain is often described as a hot, sharp stabbing sensation in the heel that’s at its worst in the morning (the first steps out of bed tend to be particularly painful) or after standing or sitting for long periods of time.

Causes of Plantar Fasciitis

When a foot is placed flat on the ground, the plantar fascia is stretched to its limit, while also supporting all of a person’s body weight. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia stretches too far, creating small tears that subsequently become inflamed and irritated.

The most common causes of plantar fasciitis are:

  • Age: it is more common between ages 40 and 60
  • Flat feet or high arches
  • Obesity or sudden weight gain
  • Exercise that puts a lot of stress on the heel
  • Walking or standing for long hours on hard surfaces
  • Ill-fitting shoes

A doctor’s diagnosis of the condition typically involves a physical examination and exploration of lifestyle factors as well as an X-ray to rule out other problems.

Plantar Fasciitis Treatments

Once plantar fasciitis has been confirmed, your doctor may recommend:

  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce pain
  • Resting your foot as much as possible for a minimum of a week
  • Massaging the plantar fascia
  • Physical therapy to stretch your plantar fascia
  • Wearing shoes with good support
  • Applying ice for periods of 10 to 15 minutes in the first few days
  • Using a night splint to stretch the fascia

Treatment for extreme cases may involve a boot cast, orthotics, steroid injections or surgery. To help prevent plantar fasciitis, try to avoid walking or working on hard surfaces for long periods of time (install cushioned rubber mats where possible) and avoid wearing ill-fitting shoes.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness