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Have you ever woken up and immediately felt piercing, burning pain at the bottom of your foot? If so, it’s possible you could be suffering from plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is a form of heel pain caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is the band of tissue that runs along the sole of your foot and connects your heel to your toes. In most cases, plantar fasciitis kicks in first thing in the morning or after waking from a nap, and gradually becomes more painful as time goes by.

Do you suspect you might be suffering from plantar fasciitis? Here are five things you need to know about plantar fasciitis and treatment.

1. How is plantar fasciitis caused?

Most cases of Plantar Fasciitis are caused by aging, weight gain or excess weight, wearing the wrong type of shoes, and exercising more frequently or for longer intervals. Also, individuals who have high arches or flat, flexible feet are most commonly affected by plantar fasciitis, and 71 percent of all individuals who wear high heels on a regular basis also tend to suffer from plantar fasciitis. The heel condition can also be triggered by calcium deposits in the heel bone, which can put excess strain on the ligaments that stretch across the bottom of the foot.

2. What type of shoes can help prevent and treat plantar fasciitis?

Since plantar fasciitis is often caused by wearing poorly-fitting shoes, most patients report relief after wearing shoes that help stabilize their heels. If your heels hurt when wearing certain shoes, press down on the back of your shoe near the heel to verify that the shoe is firm enough to stabilize your heel. If not, buy heel cup inserts or buy a new pair of shoes that fit more comfortably. Approximately 14 percent of all plantar fasciitis patients report experiencing relief after swapping out their shoes.

3. What is the best treatment for plantar fasciitis?

If wearing new shoes doesn’t alleviate your heel pain, make an appointment at one of Our Offices as soon as possible. We can fully assess your heel pain to verify whether you’re experiencing plantar fasciitis or another foot problem, and prescribe the necessary course of treatment. Possible treatment options include custom orthotics, nonsteroidal medications and/or cortisone injections. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended.

4. What types of stretches can help relieve heel pain?

While stretching and exercise may not prevent sore heels and reverse plantar fasciitis, stretching can help ease and relieve aches and pains associated with the foot condition. Perform the following stretching exercise to relieve plantar fasciitis:

  • Cross your left leg over your right knee, and grab your toes with your left hand.

  • Press your left foot toward your left knee, and hold for approximately three seconds.

  • Release the stretch, and pull your left foot away from your knee.

  • Repeat this stretch five times on each leg.

5. When should I see a podiatrist?

If you start experiencing sudden severe heel pain out of the blue, make an appointment with one of Our Offices as soon as possible. This is especially important for athletes, since complete rupture of the plantar fascia can lead to major setbacks and recovery that could take several weeks. In some cases, patients may be required to wear a boot and use crutches until the plantar fascia is completed healed.