At Texas Foot Specialists, one of the most common complaints patients bring to us is heel pain, and by far the most frequent cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a strong band of tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot from your heel to your toes. When it becomes inflamed and irritated, you experience heel pain. Many patients find that the pain is worse when they first get up in the morning or after they have been sitting for a long time. As they get moving, the plantar fascia is stretched and the pain subsides. Other possible symptoms include pain in the arch of the foot and swelling on the bottom of the heel.
There is no definitive test for plantar fasciitis, but after obtaining your medical history and examining your foot, our podiatrists, Dr. Gregory Mangum and Dr. Bruce Miller, will rule out other possible disorders that have heel pain as a symptom. X-rays and other diagnostic imaging studies may be ordered as well. These can detect heel spurs which often accompany, but don’t cause, plantar fasciitis.
There are three levels of treatment your foot doctor may recommend. The first and least invasive is aimed at reducing pain and strain on the plantar fascia:
- Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (like ibuprofen)
- Rest and limiting physical activities known to cause heel pain
- Icing the heel
- Wearing shoes with good arch support
- Avoiding going barefoot
- Stretching exercises
If these strategies don’t reduce your pain after several weeks, the foot doctor may move onto one or more of these treatments:
- Injection therapy of corticosteroids to reduce pain and inflammation
- Padding, strapping or taping to soften the impact and support the foot to take strain off the plantar fascia
- Orthotic devices custom made for your foot to correct structural abnormalities that may be causing plantar fasciitis
- Night splint to keep your plantar fascia stretched and extended while sleeping
- Removable walking cast to immobilize the foot to allow healing to occur
For most patients, these treatments will resolve heel pain. In a few cases, however, surgery may be required. If you are experiencing heel pain, make an appointment at our Sugar Land (281) 242-4448, Houston (713) 664-6677, or Pasadena (281) 991-0600 office today.