Causes and Treatment of Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciitis)
Plantar fasciitis sounds like a rare, exotic ailment though it is the most common foot complaint today. Most people just call it heel pain. It involves inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is the most frequent cause of heel pain. The plantar fascia holds the bottom of the foot together and stretches to absorb the shock of 2 to 3 times the person’s body weight with every step. Excessive stretching of the plantar fascia causes it to pull away from the heel bone, which often results in inflammation and discomfort at the heel. If not treated for a long period of time, plantar fasciitis can develop into a heel spur.
The worst pain is usually experienced first thing in the morning, because while you are resting the plantar fascia contracts back to its original shape. In this contracted condition, it pulls even harder during your first morning steps. As the day progresses, the fascia gets re-stretched and the pain usually subsides.
Causes of Heel Pain
Flat feet, causing extra strain on the plantar fascia, happens to be the leading cause of plantar fasciitis. Other possible causes of heel pain include: a sudden increase in physical activity, a foot with an unusually high arch, improperly fitting footwear and excessive weight on the foot.
Treatment of Heel Pain
The treatment of heel pain is mainly a matter of treating the conditions which are causing the excessive stretching of the plantar fascia. A custom made arch support called orthotic to fully support the long arch of the foot with rearfoot posting has been shown to be extremely effective in controlling flat feet. Limiting the stretching of the plantar fascia will prevent the inflammation which is the main cause of pain so that the condition can begin to heal.
A custom orthotic, which is manufactured specifically for your foot, can provide the ultimate in fit and support. A custom orthotic should assure perfect contact with the entire bottom of the foot, no matter how unique its shape may be. In order to provide the best benefits for your particular conditions, further modifications and corrections can be built into a custom orthotic.
Well-fitting footwear with good heel cushioning and shock absorption will also help comfort the foot. Stable footwear should not flex excessively through the arch and should have a strong heel counter to adequately support the foot. Many shoes can accommodate custom orthotics. The combination of proper fitting, stable footwear with custom orthotics can provide the best foundation for curing heel pain.
Preventing Heel Pain
Avoid going barefoot or running on hard surfaces to prevent over-stretching of the plantar fascia. Wear proper shoes with orthotics that support your arch and, if applicable, lose any excess weight. Night splints and stretching exercises can also be beneficial in healing plantar fasciitis.