Plantar fasciitis is a common problem, but not many people know what it is or how to treat it. The hallmark sign is pain on the bottom of the foot. People often associate the pain with injury to the foot, heel spurs, or age. Failure to recognize the cause leads to mistreatment and continued pain.
The culprit is chronic irritation of the tissues on the sole of the foot. The tissues become irritated from overuse, arch problems, obesity, rapid weight gain or poor footwear. It occurs most frequently in active men between the ages of forty to seventy. Long-distance runners are frequently subjected to this painful inflammation.
The first thing most people notice is pain on the sole of the foot or feet. It is at its worst in the morning when they first get out of bed. After walking around it will improve enough to get through the day. However, the person continues to feel pain. Activities such as running, climbing stairs and exercise cause intense pain making those activities impossible. Those who work desk jobs will notice an increase in pain after sitting for long periods.
Diagnosis is made based on the symptoms and elimination of other causes. Most physicians will order a basic x-ray series to rule out spurs or other skeletal problems. There may be some swelling or redness on the sole of the foot.
Acetaminophen and ibuprofen will help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Most physicians will recommend resting the foot or feet for at least one week. Minimizing time spent walking or standing allows the tissues to recover. Ice is helpful to decrease swelling and inflammation and thus pain.
Wearing shoes with appropriate support is essential. In addition, the physician may recommend insoles, splints or other supports. In severe cases, a boot cast may be necessary. Another option for stubborn cases could be steroid injections, but these are reserved for when all else fails.
Eliminating the cause is crucial. Limiting running activities, losing weight, and focusing on causative agents can prevent recurrence. Regular exercises will improve endurance of the tissues to activities such as running.
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