Plantar fasciitis, or "heel spur pain," is the most common cause of pain under the heel. The pain is usually located under the center of the heel, but can also extend into the arch. It is caused by small tears in the ligament along the bottom of the foot, called the plantar fascia. If you notice pain when you first get out of bed in the morning or when you stand up after being seated, you may be suffering from plantar fasciitis. The pain typically improves once you are up and moving around for a while.
The average age of patients who develop plantar fasciitis is 45. It is twice as common in women as men. It also occurs more frequently in people who are overweight.
The good news is that more than 90% of plantar fasciitis cases improve without surgery or injections within ten months. Non-surgical treatments include:
- Stretching exercises for the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia ligament
- Silicone heel cushions inserted into comfortable walking shoes
- A night splint or boot to wear to sleep at night
- Cortisone injections, in limited cases where other treatments have failed
- Shock wave therapy
There are three helpful exercises that we recommend to anyone suffering from plantar fasciitis symptoms.
Exercise 1: With one hand grasp toes and pull ankle and toes up towards shin to stretch plantar fascia. With the other hand massage plantar fascia ligament in the arch.
Exercise 2: Stand against wall with painful foot back, leg straight, and forward leg bent. Keeping heel on floor, lean into wall until stretch is felt in calf and hold.
Exercise 3: Roll the arch of your foot back and forth over a tennis ball to stretch the plantar fascia ligament.