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Your feet are designed to handle a lot of pressure. But when they’re put under too much strain, you could end up with sore feet.
If the pain you’re experiencing is located on the bottom of your heel, it’s likely caused by plantar fasciitis.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. The plantar fascia is a tissue that connects your heel bone to the base of your toes. The purpose of the plantar fascia is to provide shock absorption for our feet.
The plantar fascia gets a lot of wear and tear in the course of our daily lives. When it’s put under too much strain, small tears may occur.
Repeated strain leads to inflammation, which causes the pain that you feel. Simply put, plantar fasciitis is an overuse injury.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
The primary symptom of plantar fasciitis is a sharp pain on the bottom of your foot near the heel.
This pain is most likely to occur when you first get out of bed in the morning or after sitting for an extended period of time.
You may also experience stiffness in your foot, which makes climbing stairs difficult. With plantar fasciitis, it is common to feel pain on the sole of the foot after exercise.
The risk factors for plantar fasciitis are mostly associated with putting excessive strain on the foot. For example, if you regularly engage in high-impact exercise such as running or dancing, then you’re at a higher risk to develop plantar fasciitis.
Being overweight, having a job that keeps you on your feet, and wearing shoes with little support can put too much pressure on the foot, leading to inflammation.
Other risk factors include age (it’s most likely to occur in people ages 40-60), pre-existing physical issues with the foot such as having a high arch or being flat footed, limited ankle mobility due to past injuries and fractures, and gender, as women are more likely to develop plantar fasciitis.
In order to make a diagnosis, your doctor will ask you questions about your condition and conduct a physical examination.
Imaging tests such as an x-ray or MRI scan are usually not necessary but they can be used to eliminate the possibility of other ailments that could cause heel pain.
There are many self-management techniques that can minimize stress on the foot and help relieve pain.
It’s helpful to wear shoes that have ample arch support and shock absorption; don’t wear shoes that are worn out. You may need to take a break from high impact activities and try low impact sports for a while.
You can also apply ice to the affected area to reduce inflammation, do stretching exercises to improve foot flexibility, and take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
Keep in mind that your sore heel needs time to recover, often as long as 3-6 months. If your heel pain continues, there are additional treatments such as shock wave therapy, steroid shots, physical therapy, and night splints. A consultation with a podiatrist (foot specialist) or a physiotherapist will be helpful.
Surgery is also an option, but usually as a last resort. Your doctor will know which options are best for you.