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a doctor examining a patient's foot for plantar fasciitis

Experiencing Sharp Foot Pain While Walking? It May Be Plantar Fasciitis

Understanding Plantar Fasciitis Pain

Have you ever experienced a stabbing, sharp pain upon walking? Many are plagued with this daily when suffering from a fairly common condition known as plantar fasciitis pain. This is a treatable but painful condition which affects the band of tissue that runs along the bottom of our foot, under the heel.

There are many treatment options available for plantar fasciitis that can help you get back to your normal activity level and quality of life, which the pain of plantar fasciitis can certainly seriously diminish if left untreated.

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

You can think of this band of tissue under the foot as what connects our heels to our toes. When it becomes inflamed via small tears and stresses, which can occur for a number of reasons, the result is a sharp pain when walking.

Though it’s more common in certain high-risk populations, just about anyone can develop plantar fasciitis for a number of reasons when this “bowstring” like ligament becomes painfully inflamed.

Causes of Plantar Fasciitis and Symptoms

The telltale symptom of plantar fasciitis, the sharp pain in heel or foot, is also sometimes accompanied by a general pain and stiffness to the whole foot, often worse in the morning when you take your first few steps.

There are certain behaviors and activities that cause many cases of plantar fasciitis. Certain segments of the population are also more at risk.

Plantar fasciitis tends not to be as prevalent in young people and is more commonly associated with those between the ages of 40 and 60.

Overweight or obese individuals are more likely to develop plantar fasciitis as the extra weight puts a greater burden on all joints and ligaments over time, which can create micro tears. Check out our guide to healthy weight loss.

Runners in particular are often prone to plantar fasciitis due to the repeated stress and impact on the foot during running, especially long distances.

Activities such as ballet and other forms of dance can also place lots of strain on the tissue and cause plantar fasciitis.

If you walk in a certain way or naturally have flat feet or a high arch, the way your foot is built can make you more susceptible to plantar fasciitis.

Skimping on cheap footwear? Wearing non supportive shoes can cause plantar fasciitis over time, or simply being on your feet for extended amounts of time, such as if you’re a teacher, retail worker or hairdresser.

How It Is Diagnosed

If you suspect you have plantar fasciitis, visit a doctor who will be able to examine your foot, ask you questions, and usually determine fairly easily if you in fact have plantar fasciitis or not.

Usually a physical examination is all that’s needed, but sometimes an x-ray or ultrasound can look further into the issue to arrive at a diagnosis.

Treatment Options

Treatment of plantar fasciitis depends largely on the severity of it and how long you’ve been dealing with pain.

The first tier of treatment is basic measures to immediately reduce the inflammation such as taking Tylenol or Advil and using ice. You’ll also need to adequately rest and get off your feet as much as possible. Injections of cortisone are also an option to relieve pain short-term.

In addition, physical therapy is a good option to help strengthen muscles in the lower leg and stretch out the plantar fascia ligament.

Special shoes or arch support insoles may also be prescribed to help give your feet extra cushion and support, as well as help distribute your weight in the best way.

If these don’t help, your doctor may prescribe you night splints to help stretch your feet overnight rather than sleeping with your feed pointing down, which most of us naturally do.

Another more intense option would be a walking cast or boot, though this isn’t normally done except in more severe cases. The same goes for surgery, which is generally only a last resort option.

Home Remedies for Plantar Fasciitis

While you heal from your plantar fasciitis, it’s imperative to relieve the root cause; get off your feet if possible and make sure to choose supportive, cushioned shoes. Use ice and anti-inflammatory over-the-counter medicines to ease pain as you heal as well.

Avoid high impact, repetitive exercises and movement like running or dancing, or anything with lots of jumping.

Preventative measures include wearing supportive, high quality shoes, stretching your calf muscles and keeping your weight at a healthy place as to not put extra strain on your tissues.

With proper preventive measures or treatment once you have plantar fasciitis, the prognosis is a positive one – in most cases, you’ll be able to heal the inflammation and reduce pain so you can get back to your active lifestyle, pain-free.

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