Plantar fasciitis — a pain in the heel
If your first few steps out of bed in the morning cause a stabbing pain in the heel of your foot, it’s very likely you are suffering from plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis involves the inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes. The pain is typically worse first thing in the morning or after other long periods of physical inactivity.
Plantar fasciitis is quite common, with an estimated 10 percent of Americans experiencing the condition at some point in their lifetime. It is most common in adults between the ages of 40 and 60. Risk factors that increase your likelihood of a plantar fasciitis diagnosis are:
■ Being female
■ Running as a sport or hobby
■ Being overweight
■ Having a job that requires a lot of walking or standing on hard surfaces
The condition typically starts gradually, with the sensation of mild pain at the heel bone, often referred to as a stone bruise. The patient is more likely to feel the pain after, as opposed to during, physical exercise.
Plantar fasciitis is a fairly common and treatable overuse injury. But, left untreated, it can become a chronic condition that prevents you from maintaining your activity level. It also can cause knee, hip and back problems, because plantar fasciitis can change the way you walk.
Under normal circumstances, your plantar fascia acts as a shock-absorbing bowstring, supporting the arch in your foot. Repetitive or chronic tension and stress on that bowstring can create small tears in the fascia and a resulting inflammation, though in many cases the cause of plantar fasciitis isn’t clear.
Footwear with proper arch and heel support is the best way to try and prevent foot pain and injuries, but if you find yourself with a diagnosis or suspected case of plantar fasciitis, there are some steps you can take at home. First, consider keeping weight off your foot until the initial inflammation subsides, applying ice to the painful area in 20-minute intervals throughout the day.
Finally, stretching exercises for your Achilles tendon and plantar fascia are by far the best treatments to address the injury and prevent reoccurrence. A qualified orthopedist or physical therapist can help you with a definitive diagnosis and to develop a program you can follow at home. They can also advise you on how and when to return to your desired level of activity to ensure you don’t hinder your recovery.
Most importantly, don’t write off foot pain as something you just have to live with. Talk with your primary care physician about any issues that send you to the medicine cabinet regularly for managing pain or that restrict your level of movement and quality of life.
If you are experiencing foot pain and need to speak with an experienced provider, Dr. E. Beth Harp, family medicine provider, is accepting new patients. Siloam Springs Family Medicine is located at 1101-1 N. Progress Ave. in Siloam Springs. If you would like to schedule an appointment, contact Siloam Springs Family Medicine at 479-2153035. Dr. Harp is a member of the Siloam Springs Regional Hospital Medical Staff.
Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is a 73-licensed bed facility with 42 private patient rooms. It is accredited by the State of Arkansas Department of Health Services and The Joint Commission. With more than 40 physicians on the medical staff, Siloam Springs Regional Hospital provides compassionate, customer-focused care. SSRH is an affiliate of Northwest Health, one of the largest health networks in Northwest Arkansas. The facility is at 603 N. Progress Ave. in Siloam Springs. For more information, visit NorthwestHealth.com.