Millions of individuals on the planet planet suffer from chronic heel pain, and the condition seems to be extremely hard to bear in the mornings, after a period of rest. The best known and most common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis, a condition that affects people especially after a certain age, or those that have a certain condition, such as flat feet.
Plantar fascia is a band of tissue that stretches from the toes and the heel bone. When this tissue becomes inflamed, heel pain appears, and, in some people, it can become such a severe health issue, that surgery is recommended. Over pronation (the unusual stretching of plantar fascia) is usually the cause, and flat feet can contribute to this consequence. The pains that are most commonly experienced occur after longer periods of rest. Treatment is available available, and consist of medication, homemade remedies, orthotics and surgery in extreme cases.
With proper care, plantar fasciitis can be corrected, and pain can be relieved. More on the link between plantar fasciitis and flat feet, as well as the best course of treatment, as follows.
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis
It is very important to understand the symptoms of plantar fasciitis, so that you do not mistake it for other conditions. The most important symptom of plantar fasciitis is the pain in the heel experienced as soon as you get out of bed. The same type of pain can be experienced when you change the weight your feet have to support. While you may feel less numb or stiff as soon as you take a few steps, you will notice how the heel pain stretches through the day, despite walking more.
In case you experience pains in the feet at night, plantar fasciitis may not be the source. The best way of diagnosing this specific condition is by visiting your physician or a specialist and asking for proper advice.
The link between flat feet and heel pain
It is known by specialists that flat feet can contribute to plantar fasciitis and heel pain, even in young people. The thing that happens every time you place your feet on a hard surface is that plantar fascia starts to stretch causing micro-tearing at tissue level. While you may not be able to notice it exactly when this happens, after periods of rest, such as sleeping overnight, when you step out of bed, plantar fascia will stretch again, causing micro-tearing to happen.
As you may easily imagine, it takes plenty of time for those small tissue tears to heal. However, if you do not do anything to help the tissue heal, the pain will become more and more severe, and, after a while, you will find it more and more difficult to carry out with your daily activities that require standing up or walking .
In the case of people with flat feet, over pronation is the main cause of plantar fasciitis. As plantar fascia stretches more, creating more tension on the medial arch, and pulling more at the insertion point in the heel, they experience heel pain.
It is worth noting that not all flat feet cause plantar fasciitis in the same manner. The most harmful condition is caused by the highest navicular drop that happens when the arch drop is the most severe. The higher the arch drop, the more chances are that the person with this type of flat feet will also experience heel pain and plantar fasciitis.
While there are other factors that contribute to such feet conditions, like obesity, illness, and age, flat feet can lead to plantar fasciitis and heel pain. It is very important that the doctor identifies correctly the cause of your heel pain, in order to prescribe the best treatment.
What treatment options are available?
In case you have flat feet and you suffer from plantar fasciitis and heel pain, you should know that treatment is readily available. 95% of people experiencing plantar fasciitis get away with non-surgical treatments and their condition is greatly improved. Surgery is recommended only in severe cases, and it is quite rare, but it can be appealed to, if the situation requires it.
The first thing you should do when you start experiencing unusual pains in the feet is to allow them to rest. The purpose of any treatment for plantar fasciitis is to allow the torn tissue to heal, and this can only be achieved if you stop stretching plantar fascia. Since people with certain flat feet conditions suffer from a drop in arch height that causes plantar fascia to stretch even more than in the case of a normal arch foot, rest is especially recommended.
Over pronation is what causes plantar fasciitis to appear in people with flat feet in the first place, and this must be corrected. A fairly easy way of doing this is by wearing proper shoes that are capable of absorbing shock, and also provide the feet with a normal arch position. Cushioned soles are a solution, but only if their shape corresponds. In general, preventing plantar fasciitis should include the use of proper footwear that does not cause the plantar fascia to stretch abnormally.
Your doctor may also recommend you ice packs that you must apply on the inflamed tissue, in order to help reduce the inflammation in the plantar fascia, as well as anti-inflammatory medications. However, these can only help you temporarily, and, in case you suffer from chronic heel pain, you need to appeal to more reliable solutions that can correct the problem in the long run.
Long term solutions
It is recommended to start with the aforementioned advice when dealing with plantar fasciitis and heel pain. However, if your situation does not improve, after six weeks, it is time to let your doctor know about it.
Especially for people with flat feet, over pronation can modify the shape of the feet to such a great extent that normal footwear can not correct it. What you need is to get a prescription for orthotics. These are nothing else but custom made shoe inserts that you can use daily in order to help your feet walk correctly on hard surfaces. The main goal of orthotics is to help modify the shape of your feet until the arch drop returns to normal levels and over pronation is no longer a cause for heel pain.
The doctor may also recommend night splints. These will help you keep the feet in the correct position, while stretching plantar fascia only lightly.
For more extreme situations when it becomes difficult even to walk, health care specialists can recommend a walking cast. While this solution may be more difficult to end, it is also one that allows your feet to rest in order to help the tissue in plantar fascia heal properly.
Physical therapy can also help you restore the normal functioning of your feet.
When is surgery recommended?
A question that may sit on your lips is about surgery. Corticosteroid shots can be prescribed to those that find the heel pain to be too much to bear, but such a solution is only short lived and it carries risks, as well.
A solution that may be offered by your doctor in case none of the aforementioned solutions leads to significant improvement after six months to one year is surgery.
This consists of cutting the ligament that keeps the plantar fascia tied to the calcaneus. Once the pressure is relieved, plantar fascia will be able to heal. However, such cases are extremely rare, and most people feel pain relief and are able to return to their normal activities by following the other treatments described a little earlier.
Flat feet can lead to plantar fasciitis and heel pain. Because the specific shape of the feet causes such an important arch drop, plantar fascia is forced to stretch beyond its capabilities, and the micro fibers in the tissue that links the toes with the bone bone startearing. Healing the torn tissue takes time, and resting can help a lot.
However, you need to pay a visit to your doctor and get a proper diagnosis. Not any type of flat feet can cause plantar fasciitis and heel pain. In case the arch drop is significant and the tension on plantar fascia becomes too hard to bear, the pain occurs, and more elaborate treatment is necessary.
Wearing proper footwear can help you a lot with the pains you are experiencing. In case your feet have an abnormal shape – which can happen to people with flat feet – you will need orthotics, which are custom made shoe inserts that will be created by following the specific shape of your feet.
In time, heel pain will subside and you will be able to walk, stand up and do everything else you normally do with your feet, just like before. It is important that you wear footwear that can support your arch, so that you experience less pain or none at all.
Surgery can be recommended, but only in extreme cases. In the vast majority, non-surgical treatments work best for correcting this condition.