If your first steps in the morning cause a stabbing pain in your heel, you may have plantar fasciitis. This inflammation of the tissue that connects your heel to your toes is very common, especially for runners.
With the right treatment, this condition usually clears in several months. To speed up your recovery and rule out other injuries, you may want to consult your doctor.
Your doctor will examine your foot to pinpoint where the pain is coming from. This exam, along with your medical history, will help her diagnose the condition.
Your doctor may also order imaging tests so she can rule out another cause of the pain. This could be something like a fracture or a pinched nerve.
There are a few options your doctor could try to ease your pain and reduce inflammation in your foot, such as using a brace to support your arch or using orthotics in your shoes. She might recommend you ice your foot. Other therapies include:
Steroid injection. If your pain is severe or doesn’t respond to prescribed NSAIDs, you might want to think about getting a steroid injection. The steroid will be injected into the most painful part of your plantar fascia. It will help ease your pain for about a month, but it might keep the inflammation down for even longer than that.
Physical therapy. If medication, rest, and a steroid injection don’t help enough, your doctor might recommend that you go to a physical therapist.
You’ll learn exercises to stretch and strengthen your plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, and lower leg muscles. Your physical therapist may also use massage, contrast baths, or ultrasonography to help with long-term healing.
If you don’t show progress after several months, your doctor may recommend a more involved procedure or even surgery. These options include:
Shock-wave therapy. This treatment, although not proven to work, literally “shocks” your plantar fascia with sound waves. It stimulates blood flow in the foot and helps the tissue heal. It also stuns your nerves to stop pain.
Tenex procedure. This procedure is performed with a small cut and is usually over in a few minutes. An ultrasound is used to target and remove scar tissue. This procedure will improve blood flow and should allow you to get back to your regular routine in as little as 10 days.
Surgery. This operation detaches your plantar fascia from your heel bone. Surgery is usually the last resort if you have severe pain or a stubborn injury that other treatments don’t help. You will probably go home the same day. Your doctor may ask you to wear a splint or boot and not put weight on your foot for a certain amount of time.