Q: I have a lot of intense foot pain. Could it be plantar fasciitis? What does it feel like?
A: The onset of symptoms of plantar fasciitis frequently occurs with a sudden increase in activity. You might feel a stabbing pain on the underside of your heel, and a sensation of tightness and/or tenderness along your arch.
People with plantar fasciitis may experience pain:
In the morning, when stepping out of bed and taking the first steps of the day
With prolonged standing
When standing up after sitting for awhile
After an intense weight-bearing activity such as running
When climbing stairs
When walking barefoot or in shoes with poor support
As your body warms up, your pain may actually decrease during the day but then worsen again toward the end of the day because of extended walking. Severe symptoms may cause you to limp.
Q: Aside from heavy pain medication, what are some good options for treatment?
A: Physical therapists are trained to evaluate and treat plantar fasciitis.
When you are diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, your physical therapist will work with you to develop a program to decrease your symptoms that may include:
Stretching exercises to improve the flexibility of your ankle and the plantar fascia
Use of a night splint to maintain correct ankle and toe positions
Selection of supportive footwear and/or shoe inserts that minimize foot pronation and reduce stress to the plantar fascia
Application of ice to decrease pain and inflammation
Iontophoresis (a gentle way to deliver medication through the skin)
Taping of the foot to provide short-term relief
Research shows that most cases of plantar fasciitis improve over time with these conservative treatments, and surgery is rarely required.
Q: What can I do to prevent plantar fasciitis?
A: Guidelines for the prevention or management of plantar fasciitis include:
Choosing shoes with good arch support
Replacing your shoes regularly, so that they offer arch support and provide shock absorption to your feet
Using a thick mat if you must stand in one place for much of the day
Applying good principles to your exercise program, such as including a warm-up and gradually building up the intensity and duration of your exercises to avoid straining the plantar fascia
Stretching your calves and feet before and after running or walking
Maintaining a healthy body weight
Chautauqua Physical & Occupational Therapy is celebrating 17 years of serving our community. We are located in the Riverwalk Center, are therapist owned and are the only outpatient clinic in the area to offer free consultations. Call us at 488-2322 or visit www.chautauquapt.com.