You’re geared up and ready for your morning run when you suddenly feel a stabbing pain on the heels of your feet with the pain intensifying each time you take a step. When that happens, take a close look. It may already be a sign of plantar fasciitis.
Studies have shown that plantar fasciitis is a common condition that may affect people of any age. However, people who are in the 40-60 age brackets are more commonly diagnosed with the disease. In fact, at some point in their lives, one in 10 people can develop this condition.
Understanding Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis affects the soles of the feet or the plantar area. This is where the plantar fascia, a thick connective tissue that looks like a bowstring, is located. The plantar fascia connects your toes and your heel bones together. It is important to maintain proper gait, normal foot function, and dynamic foot movement. It also acts as a shock absorber as it supports the arch in your foot.
Plantar fasciitis develops when repetitive strain or actions are applied to the plantar fascia. For instance, excessive stretching of the feet can cause tension on the plantar fascia. This microtrauma to the structure, if repetitive, can result in the degeneration of the fibers in the area. When the tension intensifies, small tears are bound to develop, thereby causing pain, inflammation, and limited mobility.
What Are the Usual Signs and Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
Runners and athletes are more prone to this condition as well as individuals who engage in activities that keep them on their feet. Pain and tenderness on the entire sole of the foot, particularly the heel, can be a symptom of plantar fasciitis. The pain usually intensifies when weight is applied to the affected foot. Heel spurs, or a bony presence on the heel bone, are actually deposits of Calcium that develop due to repeated tension and stress to the plantar fascia.
This condition can make performing physical activities involving the feet difficult. You can start feeling stiffness and sensitivity in your foot especially upon waking up in the morning, rising up from a sitting position, standing on your feet for long periods, or getting out of your vehicle. You might also have a hard time walking barefoot especially on hard surfaces. There’s also a chance your foot might swell and feel warm and tender due to plantar fasciitis.
Factors That Heighten the Risk of Plantar Fasciitis
- Poor foot mechanics. Additional stress can be applied to the plantar fascia when your weight isn’t properly distributed especially when you’re in a standing position. Being flat-footed, having an uncharacteristic walking pattern, or having a high arch can have bearings on the way weight is distributed to your feet.
- As mentioned earlier, middle-aged individuals aged 40-60 are more prone to plantar fasciitis, although studies also show that the prevalence rate is equal among men and women.
- Occupation or job. Your job might be keeping you up on your feet, literally, most of the time. If you spend hours standing on your feet on hard surfaces at work, you can be inflicting damage on your plantar fascia.
- Being overweight. When you’re overweight, you tend to put extra stress on your feet; thus, excess stress is eventually applied to the plantar fascia, too.
- Some types of exercises. Sports, activities, and exercises that place too much stress on your heel such as running, jumping and dancing can make you more susceptible to plantar fasciitis.
Is it Time to See a Doctor?
You have to consult your doctor when the pain on your heel is already too intense to ignore. More often than not, imaging tests are performed to make sure that the pain isn’t caused by other foot problems. Depending on the severity, your doctor may opt to give you treatment or recommend you to another doctor who specializes in foot disorders.
Managing the Plantar Fasciitis at Home
You can manage the pain caused by plantar fasciitis at home using natural remedies with ingredients you’d normally find in your kitchen. For instance, you can make it a habit to soak your feet in a quart of water mixed with a tablespoon of Epsom salts. If you have mustard oil in your kitchen, warm some of it, apply on your ankles and heels, and massage in a circular motion for about 15 minutes. Do this in the affected area at least two to three times every day.
If the pain becomes too much and already interferes with your daily activities, you can also wear plantar fasciitis braces that are specifically designed to help eliminate heel pain and provide some comfort and symptomatic relief.
With some lifestyle changes like losing or managing your weight, choosing better shoes, and doing regular stretching exercises, you can relieve yourself of the pain caused by plantar fasciitis.