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What Are the Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis and How Is It Treated?

When you think about your body, you’re well aware of tissues like muscles, tendons, and ligaments. You’ve probably experienced what it feels like to get a sprain or a strain, which is a tear or stretch in those tissues that causes pain and weakness. But your body also has another tissue system called fascia that wraps your muscles and other body parts in a spider web of sheets and cords of densely packed collagen fibers.

If you’re a runner or you’re overweight, you’re at increased risk for an injury to the fascia at the bottom of your foot, known as the plantar region. When you rip or tear your plantar fascia, you might develop a type of painful inflammation called plantar fasciitis.

At The Frazier Foot and Ankle Center in Cypress, Texas, our founder, Michael J. Frazier, DPM, offers a variety of minimally invasive and surgical therapies to relieve heel pain and plantar fasciitis. 

Here he discusses three things to watch for that signal plantar fasciitis.

1. Stabbing pain in your heel

The plantar fascia connects your heel bone to the front part of your foot. When the plantar fascia is healthy, it supports your arch and keeps your foot in proper alignment. 

Your plantar fascia also helps your foot absorb shocks to protect your bones and other tissues when you walk, run, and jump. However, too much stress on your foot can stretch the plantar fascia beyond its capacity so that it starts to tear.

An injury to your plantar fascia triggers your body’s healing response, which includes inflammation. The inflammation makes your plantar fascia tender, swollen, and painful. If you have plantar fasciitis, you probably feel most of your foot pain right around the heel area.

2. The pain is worse after resting

One of the characteristic signs of plantar fasciitis is a stabbing, excruciating pain in your heel when you take your first steps in the morning. As you sleep or rest, your plantar fascia contracts. When you stretch it out too quickly by stepping on your foot, the fascia gets stressed and irritated.

You might feel some relief as the day progresses and your fascia gradually stretches out. You might even be completely pain-free while you’re exercising. But as soon as you rest, your heel hurts again.

3. You have a heel spur

Untreated plantar fasciitis can lead to a complication called a heel spur. A heel spur is a bone-like calcium deposit on your heel bone that can be sharp enough to injure the surrounding tissue. Although you might not be able to see or feel the spur, if you come to The Frazier Foot and Ankle Center for heel pain diagnosis and treatment, Dr. Frazier may notice the bony protrusion when he X-rays your foot.

Treating plantar fasciitis

If you’re in the early stages of plantar fasciitis, your foot and heel pain may resolve with simple measures, such as resting your foot, icing your heel, and taking over-the-counter pain medication to control discomfort and swelling. Dr. Frazier may also recommend physical therapy to gently stretch the plantar fascia and the Achilles tendon and to strengthen your calf and foot muscles.

You may also benefit from minimally invasive treatments such as night splints to keep your plantar fascia from contracting too much while you sleep. Dr. Frazier may custom-design orthotics that fit in your normal shoes to support your arch and distribute stress evenly over the bottom of your foot. 

If you have more severe heel pain, Dr. Frazier might recommend steroid injections to relieve both pain and inflammation. He may also recommend surgery to remove a bone spur or to loosen the plantar fascia. 

You don’t have to suffer from heel pain. Contact us today for a plantar fasciitis evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment plan by phoning our friendly staff or using the online message form.

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