Plantar Fasciitis: Fixing the Broken Strings

A violin player knows how to tune her instrument. Each string is a different size and each needs an exact amount of tension to produce the perfect pitch. You have cords in your feet that require the correct tension, too, and if the one under your foot is too tight when you step out of bed in the morning, you may let out a screech like a poorly-tuned violin from the pain in your heel. That’s the music of plantar fasciitis.

The Too-Tight Tissue Band Blues

Plantar Fasciitis Diagram Your plantar fascia is the strong ligament that attaches under your heel bone (calcaneus) and fans out to join the metatarsals at the front of your foot. The tension on this band helps hold the foot bones in their arched position. It acts a little like a spring, stretching out when you put more weight on your foot and contracting when the pressure is off.

You can imagine the amount of wear and tear this involves when we take anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 steps a day—or more. Running, sprinting, or jumping add even more stress. The fibers of the ligament can weaken and develop tiny tears which cause it to become swollen or inflamed.

While at rest, the tissues shrink back and try to repair themselves. That’s why those first steps in the morning can be so painful. The tightened tissue pulls against the heel bone and tears at the membrane covering it. Ouch! After a minute or so of walking, the tendon is stretched back out a little and the pain subsides, but the damage doesn’t go away.

A Never Ending Song

This cycle is repeated each day, and each day the plantar fasciitis can get a bit worse. When your feet hurt, you alter the way you walk to relieve it. This can throw your whole skeleton off balance. The pain crescendos to affect your ankles, knees, hips, and even your back. Just as a violinist needs to retune after a rousing piece, you need to regroup and get those cords under your feet back in shape again. Thankfully, conservative treatments are usually quite effective at reducing your discomfort.

Practicing at Home

Some of the best things you can do for your sore heels are to lose weight and change your footwear. Shedding a few pounds can lessen the stress, and choosing shoes with solid arch support and cushioning will help give your feet a more supportive and comfortable foundation.

Changing your activities can help as well. Try biking or swimming for a while instead of walking and running to get your exercise. Take time every day to stretch your plantar fascia, your Achilles tendon, and your calf muscles. Use an ice pack covered with a thin towel on the area, or roll your sock-covered foot over a can of frozen orange juice. This will help reduce swelling and relieve some of your pain.

When You Need Professional Help

Come to the expert podiatrists at Aadvanced Foot Care Associates for answers when your plantar fasciitis pain persists. Here are some other conservative treatment methods we may have you try:

  • Physical therapy to stretch the plantar fascia and a tight Achilles, and to strengthen muscles that help hold your foot structure in place
  • Night splints that stretch your calf muscles and arch while you sleep, to keep the fascia limber.
  • Heel cups, special cushioned pads, or custom orthotics that help distribute the weight over more of your foot
  • Medication that can relieve your symptoms while the ligament is healing
  • Extracorporeal shock wave therapy to stimulate healing of the affected tissue
  • A steroid shot into the tissue to relieve pain, although these must be used with caution

Call our office in Rego Park at (718) 896-4433, Plainview at (516) 822-9595, or Flushing at (718) 969-2266 and set up an appointment or request an appointment online. With over 100 years of foot care know how, we can help you tune up your feet so they can make beautiful music again. You can also set up an appointment using our contact page, and keep in touch on Twitter and Facebook for up-to-date information.

Our Locations

Rego Park
97-07 63 Road
Rego Park, NY 11374
(718) 896-4433

Plainview
100 Maneto Hill Road, Suite 103
Plainview, NY 11803
(516) 822-9595

Flushing
76-79 172 Street
Flushing, NY 11366
(718) 969-2266

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