Some people would love to sleep in every morning, while others love getting up before dawn to greet the new day. No matter whether you cannot get enough z’s or you just can’t wait to get going, sharp pain under your heel when you first stand up starts your day off badly. That’s what plantar fasciitis can do to you, if you don’t make the effort to take care of it.
The Most Common Cause of Heel Pain
The plantar fascia is a ligament that lies along the bottom of your foot. It connects your heel and toes and helps form your arch. Problems begin when you put a lot of stress on this ligament—be it from running long distances, climbing stairs, walking on hills or uneven surfaces, or standing long hours at work. Age exacerbates these problems, as does having a foot structure that puts more strain on the tissue, such as flat feet or high arches. Tight calf muscles and Achilles tendons or being overweight can also cause the ligament to pull tighter.
When your plantar fascia is pulled repeatedly, it stretches and develops tiny tears. The tissue can become swollen, irritated, and inflamed—a condition called plantar fasciitis. The fibers on the heel bone where the ligament is attached can also become inflamed, and that’s where the heel pain originates.
Why Heel Pain Is Worse in the Morning
During the day, your planter fascia loosens and stretches as you move around on it. At night, while you are at rest, you often sleep with your foot flexed (toes pointed down). This takes the pressure off the plantar fascia, which lets it contract. The same thing happens to your Achilles tendon.
By the time you get out of bed in the morning, the ligament is quite tight, so when you put weight on it for the first time, it protests at being stretched out again. (The same thing can happen when you sit for long periods.) After you’ve hobbled around for a few steps, it loosens up again and the pain may subside. If you don’t take care of the problem, this pattern will repeat over and over, gradually getting worse, until you experience any increasing frequency of pain throughout the day.
At Home Remedies for Plantar Fasciitis
You need to come in for an expert diagnosis to make sure this is really what’s happening with your heel pain, and not something like a stress fracture or bursitis. We may take an x-ray to see if any bone spurs have developed, or use an ultrasound to examine the soft tissue of the ligament. We will also test to see whether your symptoms could be due to arthritis or some other issue.
Once plantar fasciitis is confirmed, there are many remedies you can do at home. A good place to start is with a week of rest, staying off the foot as much as possible and using ice to control the pain and inflammation. We can prescribe pain relievers during this time if the discomfort is severe. We can also show you stretches for your plantar fascia, Achilles, and calf muscles that can take the pressure off your feet.
We will also advise you on the proper shoes to benefit your arch style. In fact we offer quality shoes we know will be better for you in our own shoe store at the Palm Coast location. We may also recommend store-bought arch supports. If they help, we can fit you with custom orthotics designed for your feet that address your specific needs.
Other Treatments for Heel Pain
Other treatment options for plantar fasciitis include injections, a night splint or cast, physical therapy, or EPAT (pressure wave treatment to speed healing). As a last result, surgical release of the ligament may be an option. Call Atlantic Foot & Ankle Associates at one of our five east Florida locations to set up an appointment and let us help. We can be reached at the following numbers, or you can schedule online.