I’ve been advocating to my patients for years the importance of supportive shoes and inserts for the treatment of heel pain. I became a firm believer when I experienced heel pain myself. It was a beautiful Fall day and I stepped out of the car onto my foot and immediately felt an intense pain in my heel. I knew immediately what it was, plantar fasciitis! Plantar fasciitis, pronounced plan – TAR fash – EE – I – tis, is the tearing and inflammation of a long ligament on the bottom of the foot that supports the arch. Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain and is a result of repetitive stress on the foot and arch. When I stepped down on my heel I felt as if a nail was driving through my heel, as I continued to walk it eased up, but still felt like a “stone bruise”. I thought to myself, “this is exactly how patients describe the pain to me.”
I had recently injured my right knee and had been compensating by transferring the weight to my left foot and leg. This is a very common reason to develop plantar fasciitis. The extra weight and strain on the plantar fascia causes small microtears which results in inflammation and pain in the initial phases of the condition.
My immediate response was to find a supportive pair of shoes with my custom made orthotics. I have a fantastic pair of Lowa trail shoes which have a fairly stiff sole and fit my orthotics nicely. Once I put on my shoes with my orthotics and take a few steps, my pain disappears. The simple process of protecting the plantar fascia with a supportive shoe and providing support for the plantar fascia with a custom orthotic has eliminated the strain on the plantar fascia. If the abnormal strain is eliminated, the fascia is not under as much stress which means that it is not tearing, not becoming further inflamed and not causing pain.
Conservative treatments for plantar fasciitis include eliminating the aggravating activity, icing in the initial stages, stretching the plantar fascia, taking anti-inflammatory medications and most importantly, wearing supportive shoes and orthotics.
More information and treatments for plantar fasciitis and heel pain .