Tag Archive for: plantar faciitis

Hikers and Runners: Treating and Preventing Plantar Fasciitis

If you’re an avid runner or hiker, you’ve probably experienced foot pain at some point in time across the miles. If that pain can be described as burning or stabbing pain in your heel, you may have plantar fasciitis.

The condition is the most common cause of heel pain, per the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). The plantar fascia tissue goes from heel to toe and helps support the arch of the foot, called the plantar fascia. When that tissue gets damaged or inflamed, it makes running – and often walking, or even standing – painful.

Lack of good arch support in footwear can lead to plantar fasciitis, as can structural issues in the foot, a sudden increase in physical activity, and obesity, which puts too much pressure on the arch of the foot. People who have more than one risk factor tend to have a higher risk of developing plantar fasciitis.

Do I have to stop running or hiking? Treatment options for plantar fasciitis

In the short term, the answer is often yes. As much as devoted runners and hikers hate to hear it, moderation or a complete break from extensive activities can have a great impact on improving your foot health. Wearing better arch supports can also contribute to recovery.

Initial plantar fasciitis treatments help the vast majority of patients.  Beyond rest, treatments include ice, anti-inflammatory medications, and various types of physical therapy or stretches.

When these treatments don’t provide relief, your doctor may recommend corticosteroid injections in the heel to reduce pain.

In severe situations, after conservative treatment options have been exhausted, surgical options may be considered. Surgery is generally a last resort and is only used in a small number of cases.

I’ve never had plantar fasciitis. How can I avoid it?

Prevention is the best medicine, the saying goes. And it’s true here too. By reducing risk factors that can lead to inflammation, you can prevent the development of plantar fasciitis. Here are four tips for prevention:

  1. Ensure your footwear offers good arch and heel support. This includes what you wear even when you’re not running or hiking. High heels, unstructured flip-flops or a lot of time on your feet in shoes with poor support can contribute to a problem.
  2. Athletes at every level need rest days. Don’t over train and listen to your body. If your job requires physical work or excessive time on your feet, factor that into your activity plans.
  3. Work to maintain a healthy weight to minimize any excess pressure on your heels and feet in general.
  4. Don’t ignore early signs of pain: Plantar fasciitis pain will get worse over time if ignored and untreated.

If you already have heel pain and suspect that it is plantar fasciitis, it’s time to see an orthopedic specialist – ideally a foot and ankle doctor. And it’s generally a good idea to moderate or pause your regular activity routine until you can meet with an expert who can confirm a diagnosis.

In Colorado Springs, Dr. John Shank and his team at the Colorado Center for Orthopedic Excellence have extensive experience treating all types of orthopedic issues, including plantar fasciitis. Dr. Shank is a Fellowship-Trained, Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon who specializes in the treatment of foot and ankle injuries and disorders. To make an appointment, call (719) 623-1050 or request an appointment online.

Five Disorders that Podiatrists Can Treat

There’s an Irish proverb:  “Your feet will bring you to where your heart is.” But what about when your feet are hurting?  Taking that first step to where your heart is can be harder than you think.

Recent research from Stanford University found that the average American takes nearly 5,000 steps daily – and that’s not counting running or working out. There’s no denying your feet are the body’s workhorses, which makes them susceptible to a variety of structural, biomechanical, and cosmetic issues. A board-certified podiatric surgeon can be a valuable resource, offering techniques and procedures to mitigate your pain from a variety of conditions, as well as increase your mobility.   Here are five disorders you can rely on your podiatrist to treat:

1.   Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, joining your heel bone with your toes.  Runners, people carrying excessive weight (whether overweight, pregnant, or forced to carry heavy objects such as backpacks or equipment), and those in occupations that require prolonged standing, are all at risk at developing plantar fasciitis. Inadequate or unsupportive footwear is another culprit. This painful condition, which is marked by a stabbing pain underneath the foot, is one of the most commonly cited reasons for heel pain.

How it’s treated. A podiatrist may recommend several at-home remedies to alleviate your pain. This could include maintaining a healthy weight, ice massage, investing in the appropriate shoes with the right fit and support, and switching to a low-impact sport.  A foot and ankle specialist will be able to diagnose this condition, as well as test for pain with a pressure test. They may recommend rigid, custom orthotic inserts that will realign the foot, provide arch support, and prevent this issue in the future.  Offering treatment round the clock, a night splint will provide consistent, automatic stretching during shuteye – making morning time a little less unpleasant.  He may also recommend anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, and deep icing.

2.   Bunions

Their medical name, Hallus Valgus, sound impressive.  But in reality, this lofty name is nothing but bunions, and anyone with bunions already has enough names to call this painful, unsightly condition.  To understand Hallus Valgus, you must first understand how they form. Developing gradually over time, bunions form as pressure on the big toe that pushes it toward the second toe. This can cause structural changes when the joints becomes misaligned, resulting in the large protruding lump that is the most common characteristic of bunions.  Smaller bunions are called “bunionettes,” but don’t let the cute name fool you.  They are just as unsightly and painful as their larger cousins.

How they’re treated. A reputable podiatrist will first offer conservative approaches; this could include bunion padding, icing, toe spacers, orthotics, and/or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling. Should the pain persist, the doctor might recommend a bunionectomy, where the surgeon will shave down the bunion and realign the toes.

3.   Athlete’s foot

Athlete’s foot, known as Tinea Pedia, is the most common type of fungal infection.  This fungus gravitates toward the feet because shoes and places like locker rooms and pool decks promote the warm, moist, dark breeding ground where fungus thrive. 

How it’s treated. Your podiatrist can prescribe topical or oral antifungal meds to make it disappear. If bacteria are to blame, you may require an antibiotic.

4.   Diabetes

Diabetics are no stranger to podiatric concerns as a result of high blood sugar and reduced nerve functioning, which can prevent the skin from healing and reduce blood flow to the feet, respectively.

How it’s treated. Ten percent of all diabetics experience a foot ulcer at some point in their life. One of the most startling aspects is that diabetics often don’t notice foot pain until after the ulcer has formed. Podiatrists can provide yearly foot examinations to determine if a patient shows any symptoms. They can also “dress” and protect the affected area, so it may heal properly.

5.   Gout

Many people are aware that arthritis can take a toll on the hands, but what about the feet? When high levels of uric acid build up the blood, urate crystals form near the joints causing abrupt, severe attacks of pain, inflammation, redness, and tenderness in the joints.

How it’s treated.  Gout usually manifests in the joint at the bottom of the big toe, and often is triggered by food and drinks with greater levels of uric acid, such as meat, shellfish, and poultry. Your physician can recommend which items to steer clear of; he may also suggest a regimen of NSAIDs and corticosteroids to control pain and reduce inflammation. In some cases, a uric-acid blocker may be prescribed.

Don’t walk away from podiatric issues! Address them head on with the help of a reputable and trustworthy podiatric specialist. Dr. Frederick Hainge of The Colorado Center for Orthopaedic Excellence is a board-certified podiatric surgeon who diagnoses and treats a variety of foot and ankle disorders. For happy feet, take that first step and schedule an appointment today by calling 719-623-1050.