West Jordan has a generous amount of outdoor space and more than 350 parks, perfect for walking or outdoor activities. But if you have foot pain from plantar fasciitis, walking may be painful – and the more you walk, the more pain you might have. Fortunately, treatment options are available to help with plantar fasciitis or other causes of foot and ankle pain.
Do not ignore the pain. People who do this often alter their gait or how they walk to avoid aggravating heel pain. Unfortunately, these changes can strain other areas of the foot, ankle, and leg, leading to even more difficulties. It’s better to seek treatment from a West Jordan foot and ankle specialist who can help treat the cause of your pain.
Other things to avoid with plantar fasciitis include wearing unsupportive shoes, gaining weight, sitting or standing for long periods without a break, and failing to stretch before walking or other exercise.
Plantar fasciitis refers to inflammation of the plantar fascia, the band of tissue that joins your heel bone with the base of your toes. For most people, the first symptom is stabbing pain in the bottom of their foot. This pain is usually worse when you first get up in the morning and start walking or after you’ve been sitting for a while, but it can also worsen after long periods of standing on your feet.
The exact cause is unknown, but it is probably related to small tears in the plantar fascia from compensating for tight calf muscles. Tension or stress, such as prolonged walking or running, may contribute to these tears. The condition is more common in people who are regular runners or engage in ballet or aerobic dancing, as these activities often put pressure on the heel and foot tissues.
Other risk factors for plantar fasciitis include:
The right treatment for you depends on several factors, including how severe your condition is, if you’ve tried other treatments unsuccessfully, other co-occurring conditions you might have, and additional issues in your medical history. A foot and ankle specialist can recommend a treatment plan that’s right for your needs. Here are some of the potential treatment options they might consider:
If your symptoms are mild, your doctor may recommend resting and staying off the foot as much as possible. They might also prescribe stretching exercises for you to do at home and suggest that you apply ice or cold compresses to the area that hurts. With this treatment, some patients recover fully after a few months. You should also ensure you are wearing properly fitting socks and shoes.
Avoiding activities that aggravate the pain is key with this approach, and unfortunately, this isn’t possible for everyone. Many people who work on their feet can’t simply take two months off work. If this treatment doesn’t seem realistic for you, it’s important to explain the problem to your doctor so they can help you find a solution.
Your podiatrist may also recommend over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or naproxen to help with the pain while you rest.
Some plantar fasciitis patients benefit from undergoing physical therapy with a qualified PT specialist. This therapist will work with you, usually doing a combination of exercises in the rehabilitation facility and prescribing other stretches or exercises to be done at home.
To be successful with physical therapy, you must do the “homework” your therapist prescribed. Setting aside time each day to do the exercises will help you improve much faster. If you’re struggling with something or in too much pain, let your physical therapist know, and they can modify the exercise or recommend another option.
In some cases, a foot and ankle specialist might prescribe a night splint to wear on your foot while you sleep. This device encourages the muscles and tissues in the foot to stretch and supports the fascia while you rest. It should be used as directed by your doctor.
During your waking hours, orthotics, or shoe inserts, may be helpful, especially if the podiatrist identifies an issue like flat feet or fallen arches that may be contributing to the plantar fasciitis. Although you can buy orthotics in many shoe stores, customized inserts created especially for your feet are more effective. Your podiatrist can create these for you after using imaging to get a closer look at the internal structure of your feet.
Orthotics are meant to fit easily into your existing shoes, but you should first remove the footbed or sock liner before placing an insert into the shoe. Once this is done, check to see if it fits snugly – the insert shouldn’t be loose, sliding around as you walk, or causing you additional pain. Another benefit of customized orthotics is that if you have difficulty using them, your foot and ankle doctor can adjust the orthotic as needed. Bring the shoes you wear to work or use the most often to your podiatrist’s office so they can observe what the problem is and find a solution.
If your plantar fasciitis is causing you severe pain and/or interfering with your ability to walk, your podiatrist may recommend a “walking boot.” This is a device that fits over your foot like a boot and allows you to walk while providing protection by keeping the foot and ankle stable. In some situations, this will take weight off the heel, relieving stress on the fascia. In other cases, a cane or crutches might be used instead.
Some patients have a hard time with physical therapy if they suffer from intense inflammation in the fascia because pain prevents them from being able to do many of the exercises. In these situations, your podiatrist may give you steroid injections in the inflamed area. The steroids calm inflammation and allow you to work on your physical therapy, strengthening the muscles and tissues. Keep in mind that steroid injections are a short-term solution only meant to facilitate other therapies – it is not safe to have repeated steroid injections in the fascia. Long-term steroid use can weaken the fascia and increase your risk of it rupturing (which will result in even more pain).
Platelet-rich plasma injections are also sometimes used to treat plantar fasciitis. Unlike steroids, platelet-rich plasma is derived from the patient’s own blood and is relatively safe to use. It’s believed to promote healing due to its high concentration of growth factors and can be used simultaneously with some other treatments.
Shockwave therapy uses sound waves to promote healing. It’s helpful for some patients who haven’t responded to other treatments, but other people may not see results.
Ultrasonic therapy involves inserting a small, needle-like probe into the heel and using ultrasound to break up and remove damaged tissues.
Surgery is rarely used to treat plantar fasciitis in cases where all other treatments have failed. The surgical approach separates the plantar fascia from the heel bone, relieving tension and pain. Although the procedure is often done in the office with a small incision, there are some risks, including recurrent heel pain, pinched nerves, and infection.
We recommend looking for a podiatrist who is experienced in treating foot and ankle pain and plantar fasciitis in particular. Learn about the doctor’s education and training, and read reviews online to determine what conditions they frequently treat.
Dr. Elizabeth Auger is a foot and ankle specialist with more than 24 years of experience treating multiple foot conditions, including many cases of plantar fasciitis. She will examine your foot, ask questions about your pain, and get to know more about you and your lifestyle, which often affects foot pain. Additionally, Dr. Auger may order X-rays or other imaging to rule out other conditions, such as a stress fracture. After diagnosing plantar fasciitis, she will put together a treatment plan to help you get back on your feet – without the pain.
Please contact our office and schedule a consultation to learn the treatment options for your foot or ankle discomfort. Same-day appointments are often available, and our friendly staff will work to fit you in as soon as possible.