Plan­tar fasci­itis — a pain in the heel

Westside Eagle-Observer - - OPINION / NEWS -

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.

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