Plantar fasciitis (heel pain) is an inflammation of the fascia at your heel. Often presenting as heel pain, most bothersome in the morning, Plantar Fasciitis is an injury we see very frequently amongst our patients. There’s lots of academic discussion around the true nature of plantar fasciitis. Some say it’s truly inflammation, while others argue that the tissues are degrading. For most people, plantar fasciitis means pain on the inside bottom part of your heel, especially when you wake up in the morning.
The hallmark of plantar fasciitis is pain on the bottom, inside part of your heel after periods of rest. You might be reading this and think, “But most of my pain is at night. What gives?” Don’t worry. While the majority of typical cases present with morning pain, some atypical cases hurt only later in the day.
What do people experience?
The hallmark symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain on the bottom, inside part of your heel after periods of rest. People describe the pain in a variety of different ways. It could be sharp, it could be dull, it could be achy, it could be burning. It could be all of those things. The quality of pain differs in how people describe it, but the location is usually the same.
Plantar fasciitis is often most painful right after you wake up in the morning and take your first 10 to 20 steps. If you have PF, that’s usually the worst part of your day. You’ve been resting for the longest period of the day while you slept. At night while you sleep, your foot relaxes. All the damaged soft tissue starts to half heal in this relaxed and shortened position. Then, when you get up and put weight on your foot, your arch lowers and you increase the stretch on your plantar fascia. That increases the tensile pulling on the attachment point at the heel. With every step, you’re re-tearing the half healing from the night before. That’s where a lot of the pain comes from, so that’s the most important part to pay attention to.
- Longer time spent standing or walking on hard surfaces
- Being overweight
- During pregnancy
- Over- training, or doing too much too soon too fast
- reduction in ankle range of motion
- compensation from another injury
What are my options for treatment? Who can help?
Treatment for plantar fasciitis (heel pain) is often stepped in nature. First line therapy often consists of physiotherapy, ice, rest, off the shelf orthotics or gel heel cups, and sometimes medication prescribed by your family doctor. If your symptoms do not settle within 6-8 weeks, consider custom orthotics to help your on-going heel pain.
Seeing a physiotherapist and massage therapist may also be of benefit.
Are you experiencing some of the symptoms listed above? We can help! For more information, check out our full injury locator page here. Still looking for more, book a comprehensive assessment with one of our gait experts today!