It happened to me just this week. I was at physical therapy and there was a woman there who was being treated for plantar fasciitis. In conversation, it came up that she had had it for TWO YEARS and had not gotten it treated.
Okay, to a certain extent, I can understand. I am also loath to go to the doctor. I know I shouldn’t admit it but I think we all like to think that those little aches and pains will go away. And sometimes they do. But to have that pain in your foot for two years is a bit nuts. Also, the longer you have plantar fasciitis, the longer it will take for it to go away.
Do I have you wondering about the pain in your foot? Wondering if that pain is plantar fasciitis? Well, only your friendly local podiatrist can truly give you a diagnosis but symptoms of plantar fasciitis include pain in your heel when you get up in the morning or if you have pain the longer you stand or if the pain increases during the day when you are walking, standing or climbing stairs. Normally, you would not have pain from plantar fasciitis at night.
To give you an idea of what plantar fasciitis is, let’s talk about the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is the ligament that runs along the bottom of your foot. It connects your heel to your toes. It is the support for the arch of your foot. As you may guess, that ligament gets a real work out – it gets stretched every time you put your foot on the ground.
There are several things that you can do that can cause this ligament to get strained. Wearing non-supportive shoes or shoes where the support has worn down can affect the ligament. Suddenly increasing the amount of time you are standing, or climbing stairs, or walking (especially if your shoes are not supportive) can cause the ligament to swell and develop small tears. Weight gain can also be a factor. When you gain weight, it can affect the amount of fatty tissue in your heel. If that fatty issue is not providing the needed cushioning, then the ligament may be affected. Also, if you normally wear high heeled shoes or western boots, the ligament will shorten because of the position of your foot in those types of shoes. If you suddenly stop wearing those types of shoes and go to flats or worn out athletic shoes then your plantar fascia will “feel the burn”.
So what do you do to “fix” the plantar fascia? The first thing is to give it a rest. Give it a chance to repair. If you know that you have been wearing unsupportive shoes, it is time to get new ones that will support your foot. Your friendly local podiatrist will work with you to develop a plan for your recovery. It may be that you go to physical therapy to learn exercises to help your foot. It may be that your doctor thinks that you should wear a splint to bed that will allow the ligament to be stretched into position even during the night. Each case has to be evaluated by the doctor so that the method of recovery fits your lifestyle.
Just remember, the longer you ignore the problem, the longer it can take to fix the problem. Please don’t wait two years like the woman I met. There is no reason to be in pain for that long.