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Plantar Fasciitis: Heel pain can be a real heel.

Mornings can be painful, especially on a Monday when you swing your feet out of warm bed and are greeted by a cold floor. However manic your Monday, the first step out of bed should never be painful. Do you find yourself waking up hobbled? Limping thru your morning routine to only have your painful heel improve as the day progresses? Is the first step after sitting or resting excruciating? You might be suffering from a condition known as Plantar Fasciitis.

Plantar Fasciitis (‘Itis’ in medicine denotes a disease state of a tissue) is swelling (inflammation) of the thick flexible tissue band in the bottom of your foot known as the plantar fascia. In medicine the term ‘plantar’ denotes the bottom of your foot and ‘fascia’ describes a thick tissue band that exists between muscles.  The plantar fascia inserts on the heel bone (the calcaneus) and extends fanning outward towards the toes. This flexible band helps to stabilize the foot and is indispensable in propelling the body forward during walking and running.

Either due to the shoes on our feet, our activity level, or are own body’s shape and make the tension in the plantar fascia increases. This increased tension transforms the pull of the plantar fascial band during walking into a painful experience.  The tugging of the soft tissue at its attachment can lead to the formation of a heel spur, which is a projection of extra bone from the bottom the calcaneus. Healthy bone responses to force by becoming thicker in a process known as Wolff’s Law, in so the heel bone gradually adapts to the increase tension of the plantar fascia band by forming a heel spur. Although the heel spur is not usually a source of pain, it is an indication of a chronic condition that should be addressed by your podiatrist.

The source of pain in plantar fasciitis is due to the inflammation of the soft tissue and muscle of the anatomy surrounding the heel spur. But what causes the plantar fascia to become fatigued and inflamed? Foot type is usually listed as a main suspect and muscle tightness (lack of stretching) is a frequent accomplice.  Body weight is another key player in the development of plantar fasciitis.

Foot type is a term used by podiatrists to explain how the foot both looks and behaves mechanically. No foot type is immune to plantar fasciitis. Your podiatrist can identify your foot type and make you a pair of custom orthotics (think glasses made especially for your feet). Orthotics helps your feet to function at their optimal level. Muscle tightness is another culprit of plantar fasical pain; the doctors at AFFC can demonstrate stretching techniques, which alleviate pain and prevent relapse. It is important to seek medical consult for your heel pain because in some circumstances that twinge may be a warning bell for something much more serious such as a fracture of the heel bone or even a tumor. The doctors at Allentown Family Foot Care can discuss numerous treatment options with you to heal your heel pain.

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