Advice for Plantar Fasciitis Relief: What It Is and How You Can Get Rid of It, 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

Often, people ask whether conditions like Plantar Fasciitis (PF) will ever get better. Plantar fasciitis is simply inflammation (-itis) of the plantar fascia (connective tissue supporting the arch of your foot). It is a syndrome that can be caused by several factors, but ultimately a culmination overuse and abuse of the arch in your foot.

Does this sound like you?

“It bothers me when I first get up in the morning. It gets better after I have walked on it for a while, but gets worse if I have been sitting, even for even a short amount of time, and then stand.”

The pain is usually in the bottom, almost the center of the heel, and sometimes radiates into the arch, although many people also complain of pain around the edge of the heel or up the back toward the Achilles tendon attachment. If the quote resonates with you and the description seems to match, chances are you’ve likely got a case of Plantar fasciitis.

If you experience pain in or around the heel or heels, you may have plantar fasciitis. Although there are several other painful heel conditions, seeing a footcare professional such as a Canadian Certified Pedorthist is a good place to start. Your practitioner can help determine the cause of the pain and work with your family doctor to make the correct diagnoses, and prognosis for treatment.

What could be causing my plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis, like other repetitive stress disorders, does not just happen randomly; there is always a reason. To get to the “bottom” of it, you need to do some “sole” searching. What we mean is that you must be honest with yourself and be an active participant in your treatment. Here are five questions you should ask yourself if you think you’ve got a case of PF.

  1. Do I stand on hard surfaces (concrete, metal, hardwood) for more than 4 hours a day? Repetitive heel-stikes on hard surfaces for several hours per day can lead to inflammation of the plantar fascia.
  2. Are my shoes appropriate for the work that I do, specifically, do they support my feet properly? Poor-fitting shoes can cause a myriad of problems for foot health, with plantar fasciitis among them.
  3. Do I work on ladders, climb stairs, carry heavy objects, or crouch/bend a lot? All of these activities can be causing repetitive stress and strain on the plantar fascia.
  4. Could I lose some weight? Excess weight (whether it be muscle tissue or fatty tissue) taxes the skeletal system and all of this burden is carried on the feet. This can be especially taxing on the plantar fascia, as it is being compressed by mass + gravity.
  5. Do I exercise enough, stay active, and take proper care of my body? A healthy, well-functioning body is a “well-oiled” machine, and the underlying tissues and structures are able to work congruently together and repair minor damages in an appropriate timespan. Exercise and activity increases the strength and health of soft tissues such as ligaments and tendons, as well as the plantar fascia.

When questioning people about the onset of this condition, most can associate it with an event. Things such as a bad pair of shoes, standing for too long or doing a particular job like painting or washing windows, where you might be up and down a ladder or step stool.

We see seasonal spikes in heel pain, such as:

  • In the fall when people are going from sandals back into closed shoes,
  • In the new year after much running around during the holidays and standing at functions in our dress shoes,
  • Or in the spring trying to get back in shape after a sedentary winter, or vigorously gardening and spring cleaning.

The fix?

Wherever you look, you will find all kinds of cures and remedies for PF, ranging from “old wives’ tales” to sensible advice. A few of the more common are physiotherapy, structured stretching routines, orthotics, heat/cold therapy, night splints, heel cushions, laser, compression sleeves, acupuncture, steroid injections, and so on.

Some of these methods might help, and some might do nothing at all. Rule of thumb: The longer you have experienced symptoms, the longer it will take to heal properly.

Figuring out what is causing your pain is always a good first step and anything you can do to help yourself is worth a try, it may cost little or nothing and be more long lasting in improving your life. It’s worth your time to visit your local Pedorthist as they can help you determine not only the cause of your foot pain, but they can also explore most of your available treatment options with you. Custom orthotics could be a long-term fix if your job requires lots of standing and walking on hard surfaces.

More questions than answers? You can get more information on orthotics, footwear and pedorthic services at Thera-Ped Foot and Ankle Clinic by calling (506) 632-9397, or book an appointment today with our Canadian Certified Pedorthists.