Plantar Fasciitis: What Is It And How To Manage Its Symptoms

Updated on September 7, 2020

Do you have a stabbing or nagging pain in the heel area?  Heel pain might not be an underlying symptom of a more serious issue, but the discomfort can still interfere with your daily activities. 

Upon closer inspection, the heel pain you feel doesn’t seem like a relatively simple bruise. Perhaps, the ache is plantar fasciitis. 

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is a relatively common heel issue involving inflammation of the tissue referred to as plantar fascia, which runs across the foot’s area that connects the heel bone to your toes. This discomfort tends to surface because of repetitive pressure brought to the plantar fascia. 

Runners, martial artists, and individuals who regularly strike their heels to the ground tend to be at a higher risk of contracting plantar fasciitis over the average individual. However, some factors can contribute to increasing the risk of contracting this physiological issue. Some of these risk factors may include, but not limited to, the following:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Current occupation
  • Specific exercises
  • Walking motions

Some people might confuse the pain felt in their feet. For example, the discomfort felt by one patient might be on the bony bumps at the base of the big toe instead of the heel. Don’t attempt to self-medicate if you don’t know the source of the ache. Consult your doctor as the pain might be because of bunions instead of plantar fasciitis. 

Check the following link for more information about treatment options for the former issue:

Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms 

Perhaps, the major complaint of plantar fasciitis patients is the pain felt at the bottom of the heel. Certain cases might involve pain radiating near the foot’s middle areas. Also, some cases might involve both feet instead of just one. 

This discomfort may escalate over time. At first, you might only feel a slight ache as you walk or put pressure on the heel. However, it can grow in intensity over time, causing a lower-than-average quality of life. 

Some patients might report that the heel pain is worse in the morning, particularly during the first steps taken out of bed. This event happens because of poor blood supply to the feet while at rest. Therefore, this particular heel pain, like other similar aches, might also surface after sitting for extended periods. 

Holding ice gel pack on knee. Medical concept photo. Isolation on a white background.

Managing Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms

Several methods are available for use to help manage plantar fasciitis symptoms. Some of these options are:

  • Calf Stretches

Muscle tightness in the calves and feet may make plantar fasciitis worse than usual. Thus, loosening these muscles may help relieve that pain. 

Start stretching the calves by leaning your hands against a wall or a sturdy, vertical surface. Next, straighten the knee of the affected leg while bending the other knee to the front. Remember, keep both feet flat on the ground for stability. 

You should feel a stretching yet soothing sensation in the calf and heel area of the extended leg. Hold this post for ten seconds before releasing it. Also, repeat two or three more times before proceeding to do physical activities concerning the affected leg. 

Furthermore, you may repeat this stretch for the other leg if it also has plantar fasciitis.

  • Plantar Fascia Stretch

Not a fan of standing stretches to help relieve plantar fasciitis pain?  Try the following stretch instead. 

Do a plantar fascia stretch by sitting on a chair or a flat, sturdy surface. Put the affected foot on the knee of the other leg afterward. 

Hold the affected leg with your opposite hand. Hence, if you have plantar fasciitis on your left heel, hold the leg with your right hand. Next, pull the toes to the shin. You should feel a tension in the foot’s arch. 

Now, place your other hand at the bottom of the foot. This time, you should feel tension in the plantar fascia. If you find it challenging to hold the foot in a stable position with one hand, you can use a towel to grasp and stretch it instead. 

Hold this position for about ten seconds before releasing it. Repeat the process two or three more times before proceeding to do physical activities with the affected leg.

  • Use An Ice Pack

You can also ease the inflammation in the plantar fascia with an ice pack’s help, and you can use it in different ways. 

First, fill a plastic bag with crushed ice. You can also use frozen corn or peas if you don’t have immediate access to crushed ice. Next, wrap a towel around the plastic bag. Put the bag of corn, ice, or peas on your foot for about 15 to 20 minutes to relieve the pain from plantar fasciitis. 

Another method is to use a shallow pan. Fill it with ice and water, and soak the affected foot in it for about ten to 15 minutes. 

You may also fill a small foam or paper cup with water. Then, put it inside the refrigerator until it becomes ice. Rub the ice on your heel for about five to ten minutes to help ease the pain. However, don’t prolong the raw contact between the ice and your skin as doing so may cause added discomfort. 

  • Use Medicines

Some medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), may help provide quick relief from plantar fasciitis pain. But, always consult your doctor before consuming any medicine to ensure you won’t acquire significant adverse effects from it. 

Still, NSAIDs may prove to be excellent choices in managing plantar fasciitis symptoms. One study put together 29 patients with plantar fasciitis. The results found that the disability and pain scores significantly improved for the group that consumed NSAIDs than the individuals who took placebos. 

The Bottom Line

Plantar fasciitis might be a relatively common heel problem for certain individuals. However, ignoring this discomfort might lead to more serious issues, such as chronic heel pain. If you have this physiological issue, you can use stretches, ice packs, and medicines to manage the ache. But, it should be in your best interest to consult with a doctor for the best treatment for your plantar fasciitis. 

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