Heel Pain Specialist in New Jersey
What is heel pain/plantar fasciitis?
With almost 2 million patients being treated every year for this condition, plantar fasciitis is the leading cause of foot pain. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia, which runs along the base of your foot, is a thick, flat band of connective tissue, also known as a ligament, that stretches from the heel of your foot to the base of your toes.
The plantar fascia acts as a natural shock absorber in your foot, helping to take on the impact of daily strains and stresses that feet endure. But our feet can only handle a certain level of stress, and pushing beyond that can cause damage or tears of the plantar fascia. When this occurs, it can cause inflammation of the plantar fascia, leading to heel pain, stiffness, and other symptoms associated with plantar fasciitis.
What causes heel pain/plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis occurs when a high-level of strain or stress is placed on the foot, causing the plantar fascia to rip and become inflamed — ultimately causing heel pain at the bottom of the affected foot. While plantar fasciitis often occurs without a recognizable cause, certain factors may make you more vulnerable to the condition. Risk factors of plantar fasciitis may include:
- Foot anatomy e.g., having a high arch or being flat-footed
- Certain walking patterns that place excess weight on the plantar fascia
- Repetitive high-impact sports or related activities e.g., running
- A sudden increase in activity level without proper training
- Having tight calf muscles, which can impact your ability to flex your foot
- Occupations that require long hours of walking or standing
- Being overweight or obese
- Age e.g., being between the ages of 40-60
What are the symptoms of heel pain/plantar fasciitis?
Signs and symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:
- Pain in the heel of your foot when walking or when stationary
- Pain when stepping out of bed in the morning
- Pain after long periods of immobility or rest e.g., after a plane ride
- An increased level of pain after physical activity or exercise
How is heel pain/plantar fasciitis diagnosed?
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or believe you have plantar fasciitis, an evaluation by an experienced doctor can help confirm a diagnosis. The medical evaluation will start with a review of your medical history and symptoms. Next, a thorough physical exam of your foot will allow your doctor to identify the source and degree of pain. Pain and tenderness at the base of your heel or pain that occurs when the foot is flexed, may be an indication of plantar fasciitis. Additional imaging testing, such as X-rays, MRIs, and ultrasounds may be used to help your doctor confirm a definite diagnosis.
How is heel pain/plantar fasciitis treated?
If you have been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis and are seeking heel pain relief, there are a number of nonsurgical treatment options available to help you get back on your feet. Nonsurgical treatment options may include:
- Rest and avoiding activities that cause foot pain
- Icing the affected foot for 20 minutes about three to four times a day can help encourage healing
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help alleviate pain and swelling
- Physical therapy and exercises to help stretch your calves and plantar fascia
- Cortisone injections to help bring down swelling
- Orthotics and other footwear to help support the foot and cushion your heel
- Night splints to help stretch out the plantar fascia as you sleep
- Extracorporeal shockwave therapy to help stimulate healing of the plantar fascia
When nonsurgical treatment is ineffective in relieving symptoms after a year, laser therapy or surgery may be recommended. Surgical options may include:
- Gastrocnemius recession to help increase the length of the calf muscle
- Plantar fascia release to ease the tension of the plantar fascia
If you are experiencing symptoms of plantar fasciitis or would like to learn more about our available podiatric services and treatment, request an appointment with us today. Our friendly and accommodating staff provides prompt and punctual service and is dedicated to providing high-end, compassionate podiatric care. At Northeastern Foot & Ankle, board-certified podiatrist Dr. Khoury takes the time to carefully listen to and understand your medical and cosmetic concerns, recommending and providing the most appropriate treatment options paired with innovative and emerging technologies to help meet your podiatric needs. Call 973.473.6665 or scroll to the top of the page to request an appointment.