Do you experience severe pain in the heel and arch upon standing after periods of rest (ie. first steps in the morning)? Feelings of having a ‘stone bruised’ heel? The initial pain often settles once you start moving only to return throughout the day. You may have plantar fasciitis!
Plantar fasciitis is by far the most common sports injury presenting to the sports clinician. With the exception of trauma, it is the most frequent cause of chronic pain in the heel. The plantar fascia is a strong connective tissue that attaches the heel to the ball of the foot and performs a vital support role in retaining the arch structure.
Along with faulty biomechanics, the plantar fascia and heel bone can be overloaded by poorly constructed footwear, being overweight, or a change in activity levels – whether sporting, occupational or at home. Inflammation is only rarely observed and so the condition should probably just be called “plantar heel pain”, because “itis” denotes the presence of inflammation. In this regard, anti-inlammatory agents (eg. Ibuprofen) will not help the condition. The absolute key to treatment is to seek the earliest possible expert help!
Do’s and don’ts for plantar heel pain
- Seek expert opinion on this ASAP. The earlier the intervention, the better the outcome!
Consider taping of the plantar fascia in the short term.. This has proven benefits for pain and function
- Consider an orthotic device, either custom made or generic, especially if the taping offers good pain relief.
- Stretch both the plantar fascia and the calves. Your sports medicine practitioner will teach you how. Be diligent!
- Recognise the importance of footwear, both athletic and non athletic. Get the right advice!
- Consider therapies like shock wave therapy if the heel pain has been present for more than 6 months and has resisted all other therapy.
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Run barefoot or in shoes with a low heel
- Schedule a steroid or other injectable treatments into the painful heel before exhausting conservative therapies above.
Our podiatrists will assess your postural, walking and running gait closely to determine why the damage has occurred, then prescribe an appropriate treatment plan to rectify the cause and relieve the symptoms.