As a leading podiatrist and foot pain expert in the Lansdale area, Dr. Jeffrey Wachtel hears this question from patients all the time. The answer depends on the kind of pain experienced and how long it lasts.
Many of us experience a moment or two of achiness when we get up in the morning. But sharp, stabbing heel pain can be a sign of plantar fasciitis, a condition that causes serious discomfort when we put weight on our feet after sitting or lying down.
If you’re experiencing moderate to severe heel pain when you rise, take heart. There are many effective ways to care for plantar fasciitis – and virtually all patients find full relief after treatment.
First, let’s look at the possible causes
Plantar fasciitis results from inflammation to the thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot, connecting your heel bone to your toes (the plantar fascia).
This painful condition is common in runners and other sports’ enthusiasts. But it can also result from weight gain or lack of regular physical activity, both of which are common as we age but can occur anytime in life. When we move less, our tissues become softer and weaker, and therefore less able to withstand the stresses of everyday activity.
The condition can also result from repeated trauma or microtrauma, meaning that we develop something like a repetitive motion injury stemming from daily activities. High-impact activities such as tennis, volleyball, dance or step aerobics can be the culprit. Work-related movements can also cause foot pain, especially for those who stand for long periods, lift heavy loads or operate equipment with their feet.
Good news: treatment is simple and effective
The first line of defense is what foot doctors call RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Dr. Wachtel may recommend you to stay off your feet for certain periods throughout the day, applying gel ice packs to relieve pain. Compression socks can also provide much-needed support. Elevating your feet for a period of time in the morning and evening can help with healing too.
Ongoing treatment will likely involve stretching, massage, and strengthening exercises for your feet and lower legs. Some patients will need custom orthotics to provide extra support and prevent further problems.
For immediate help with foot pain of any kind, please call our Lansdale office. Dr. Wachtel will be glad to evaluate you and create a custom care plan to relieve pain that will return you to healthful activity.
Mayo Clinic website