woman with heel pain

Plantar Fasciitis: Causes and At-Home Treatments

Categories: Exercises / Pain Management / Sports Medicine

Dedicated runners are constantly training to hone their skill set. Whether you are a student athlete on a high school track team, attempting to maintain a steady fitness regimen in your twenties, or are trying to return to a healthy routine, you’ll likely be running frequently. And, with this constant motion comes the potential for several common running injuries. Because foot movement is constant, runners can develop pain in the heels. Read on to learn more about plantar fasciitis, how to identify it, and common sports medicine treatments for this orthopedic injury.


What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar Fasciitis is a common heel injury in which the plantar fascia is torn. The plantar fascia connects the heel bone to the toes, spanning the length of the foot. This provides support to your foot, and as a result, the rest of your body. Overactivity can cause this tissue to become inflamed. Taking an orthopedic approach is the best way to treat this heel pain.


What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis often tends to develop from an aggressive training regimen. As with other sports injuries, sudden, steep increases in intensity or distance can cause plantar fasciitis to develop. Failing to stretch muscles that become stressed while running may also increase the chances of plantar fasciitis developing. Tight calf muscles can put additional stress on the plantar fascia, possibly causing it to tear. Runners transitioning from a treadmill to uneven trail terrain may also develop plantar fasciitis, especially with hills.

There are some additional risk factors for plantar fasciitis. Obese people tend to be at a higher risk. This is because the additional body weight is imposing greater stress on the feet. It is also a common issue for pregnant women.

woman sitting on stairs with heel pain


The structure of your foot can also impact your chances to develop plantar fasciitis. Both high arches and flat feet increase the chances of developing plantar fasciitis. The wrong footwear– either shoes with soft soles or poor arch support– can also cause plantar fasciitis.


Common Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis

Unlike other sports injuries that may require extensive tests for a diagnosis, plantar fasciitis is quite easy to diagnose. In fact, it is often self-diagnosable.

The most prominent symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain near the bottom of the heel. Often, this pain is most intense during the morning, shortly after patients wake up. As people with plantar fasciitis begin moving around, this pain tends to become less intense. Pain from plantar fasciitis is sometimes absent during intense physical activity, but tends to flare up afterwards.

Depending on the intensity of the orthopedic injury and other factors, this pain can range from a minor ache to severe discomfort.


Orthopedic Sports Medicine Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis

While plantar fasciitis may not cause searing pain, treating it promptly and efficiently will prevent future issues. It can take a long time to fully treat without ample blood flow, so starting treatment early is imperative.

When simple remedies are ineffective, some specialists resort to corticosteroids. Injecting corticosteroids into the damaged parts of the ligament is a common tactic for both easing the pain and reducing inflammation. Anti-inflammatory medication goes a long way in reducing inflammation, which is key to healing the injury. Occasionally, the orthopedic professional will apply a light, painless electrical current to the skin, which enables the steroid to pass into the muscle.

Severe cases of plantar fasciitis may require more intense treatment, such as surgery.

orthopedist looking at foot


At-Home Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis

For some patients with less severe cases of plantar fasciitis, at-home treatments may be more effective. Icing the heel and the surrounding area for 20 minute periods can prove quite helpful in reducing inflammation. Changing your exercise routine to involve less physical activity may also have a positive impact. Wearing arch supports inside your shoes can also make a meaningful difference. Night splints, which stretch the calf and the arch, will stretch your foot overnight, mitigating the morning pain.


Schedule an Appointment With a Long Island Orthopedist

Continuing to engage in your standard exercise routine after suffering a sports injury will only lead to further injury. If you believe that you have developed plantar fasciitis, then it’s important to consult a qualified orthopedist immediately. Our team of qualified orthopedists will help you to overcome your injury, and practice body-strengthening stretches.