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Stabbing Foot Pain: Is it Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. Each year more than 2 million people in the United States are treated for it, and stabbing heel pain is a telltale sign.

Fortunately, there are effective treatment options available to ease heel pain. At Family Foot and Ankle Center of South Jersey, located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, our team can diagnose and treat issues like plantar fasciitis. If you’re experiencing any type of heel pain, consulting with a foot and ankle specialist is a wise first step to getting a resolution.

What is plantar fasciitis?

The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot and connects the heel, bone, and toes. It plays a crucial role in supporting the arch of the foot and absorbing shock so that you can walk, run, and stand without pain. 

When this fibrous tissue becomes inflamed or irritated, it’s referred to as plantar fasciitis. 

Telltale symptoms of plantar fasciitis

Stabbing heel pain is a classic symptom of plantar fasciitis. It’s usually worse in the morning when you take your first steps, and improves as you continue your day. Because plantar fasciitis pain tends to come and go, many people put off getting help until the recurring heel pain becomes especially bothersome. The sooner you address it, the sooner you can get relief.

Here are the most common signs that you may have plantar fasciitis:

If surrounding nerves in the foot are irritated, you may experience pain that shoots up to the ankle. Some people avoid putting weight on the affected foot, and this can make matters worse because it puts stress on the spine. If it goes on long enough, you may experience back pain.

Causes and risk factors of plantar fasciitis

After having plantar fasciitis treated, it’s a good idea to reduce the risk of it returning. Stress on the fascia, which can cause irritation or small tears, increases the chances of developing plantar fasciitis. 

This issue is more common as you get older, with plantar fasciitis commonly developing in people between the ages of 40 and 60. While age is a factor outside of your control, other risk factors are controllable.

Being overweight places extra stress on the plantar fascia. This means maintaining a healthy weight may cut your chances of recurrence.

People with certain foot types, such as flat feet or high arches, are also vulnerable to developing plantar fasciitis. Flatfoot is when your feet have little to no arch. These conditions cause an uneven distribution of weight, which can put stress on the fascia. 

Having an occupation that keeps you on your feet is also a risk factor, as are certain physical activities that place stress on the heel, such as long-distance running. 

Treating plantar fasciitis

Treating plantar fasciitis involves a comprehensive approach aimed at easing pain and reducing inflammation while promoting healing. Rest is the initial recommendation. Sometimes avoiding activities that exacerbate the plantar fascia is enough to allow for healing. 

In some cases, rest isn’t enough to resolve the issue. Our team may recommend stretching and strengthening exercises. Targeted stretches can relieve tension on the plantar fascia, while specific exercises to strengthen the foot and ankle muscles can provide added support that eases the pressure on the fascia. 

Orthotic devices, such as shoe inserts or custom-made orthotics, can help distribute pressure more evenly across the foot and provide additional arch support. For cases that fail to respond to conservative treatments, our team may recommend corticosteroid injections.

There are cases where surgical intervention is the most appropriate option. When this is the case, our team may recommend plantar release surgery (fasciotomy), which is designed to release tension on the plantar fascia. 

However, most patients with plantar fasciitis experience significant relief and improvement through nonsurgical, comprehensive treatment plans.

Don’t delay seeking treatment for bothersome heel pain. Our team has extensive experience treating a full range of issues that affect the feet and ankles, including plantar fasciitis. To schedule a consultation, call our office or book online here on our website.

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