The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Warm Weather Foot Pain: Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis

Posted by on Monday, June 6th, 2016

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Many NYC residents land in our office with stabbing heel pain once the weather warms up. It’s not the weather itself – it’s the increased activity level, which can spur the onset of plantar fasciitis, one of the most common conditions we treat at The Center For Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Treatment for plantar fasciitis is not as straightforward as you might think, especially if you’ve been suffering for weeks before seeking help.

treatment for plantar fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis affects the heel, especially after sleeping or sitting for prolonged periods. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons user Kosigrim)

How Does Plantar Fasciitis Progress?

Plantar fasciitis involves injury to the plantar fascia, a thick band of fibrous tissue running from heel to toe on the underside of your foot. The plantar fascia’s primary function is to absorb shock and support the arch. When this part of the body suffers an overload, the tissue becomes irritated and inflamed.

Prolonged inflammation causes your tissue to actually breakdown. The surrounding area swells up, and you wind up with a tremendous pain along the inside edge of your heel (and sometimes running through the arch). The pain tends to be worst during those first few steps in the morning and after prolonged periods of sitting.

Why Seek Professional Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis?

An evaluation from a sports doctor considers your history of foot problems and assesses your gait, foot shape, and flexibility. We sometimes perform X-rays to help rule out stress fractures (which have similar symptoms), and we may conduct ultrasounds as well, which provide information about whether your plantar fascia has torn or thickened.

As foot specialists, we’ve found that over-training or sudden increases in activity level tend to exacerbate underlying anomalies like flat feet or tight calf muscles, so our goal is to create a treatment plan that addresses both the stabbing pain and its root causes.

That’s the main difference in seeking care from a foot specialist versus a general physician, who’s more likely to send you on your way with prescription pain medication without examining underlying foot troubles.

How Is Plantar Fasciitis Heel Pain Treated?

At The Center For Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine, we might direct you toward one or several of these treatment options:

  • Switching to low-impact activities like biking or swimming.
  • Limiting time spent barefoot or in flat shoes like sandals.
  • Being fitted for custom orthotics to add arch support and offload pressure (especially if you have flat feet).
  • Taking a short course of anti-inflammatory medication or corticosteroid injections to relieve pain.
  • Undergoing ice massage and physical therapy to stretch your tightened foot structures.
  • Wearing a night splint to keep your tissues stretched overnight.
  • Using the latest techniques, like shockwave therapy, to speed up healing.
  • Starting a physical therapy program to keep your feet functioning at peak performance.
  • Strength training to build up calf muscles and reduce pressure on your plantar fascia.

What Is the Prognosis for Plantar Fasciitis Treatment?

The good news is that surgery for plantar fasciitis is rarely needed. Most patients will make a full recovery within three to six months – but for some, it can take up to a year for all pain to subside. While you may not be able to change underlying issues like flat feet, you can take a number of preventative steps. Most importantly, you can contact a foot care specialist at the first sign of trouble, rather than letting the pain go on until there are no treatment alternatives. Contact our Westchester or Manhattan foot doctor offices to schedule a consultation and get on the path to healing your feet.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.