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What a way to wake up! You take your first step out of bed and almost collapse from a sharp, stabbing pain under your heel. Be honest. You probably had a niggling feeling that something was wrong before now. The pain of plantar fasciitis comes on gradually, and you must have had some warning. This is an overuse injury, so maybe you have felt soreness there after a long soccer game or a weekend hike in the mountains. Well, don’t ignore your heel pain any longer. It’s time to find relief.

Losing Support

When your plantar fascia—a band of tissue under your foot that supports the arch—is stressed by repetitive movement or injuries, it can stretch and tear. Repeated tears cause the tissue to degenerate and not be able to heal itself as well. It can be even worse if your calf muscles are tight, you have a higher-than-normal arch, or you carry around too much extra weight. Damaged ligaments can become inflamed and swollen, pressing on surrounding tissues and causing pain. They can also become weaker.

Weak ligaments cannot keep the bones of your arch in position. This in turn stretches the plantar fascia even more. Then at night while you rest, the ligament tightens up. When you first step on it in the morning, it pulls on the heel bone where it is attached. This is what causes that sharp, morning heel pain. Sometimes a bone spur develops on your heel that complicates matters even further.

Finding Relief

Come in to Axis Foot and Ankle Clinic for a complete evaluation of your problem. We will discuss your symptoms, examine your foot for arch shape and areas of tenderness, and check its range-of-motion. We may also use X-rays to rule out a fracture or arthritis.

Once we have diagnosed plantar fasciitis as the cause of your heel pain, there are many conservative treatments to try. Rest is the first. Often, just avoiding the activities (like long walks or sports) that are aggravating the tissue will give it time to heal. During this time, you can use ice packs to reduce any swelling and numb the pain. Rolling the bottom of your foot over a frozen water bottle also works well. We even offer laser therapy, which can help heal the plantar fascia on the bottom of your foot.

Exercise can contribute to the problem, but it can also help heal it. Since tight muscles in your feet and calves are a factor, we can show you stretches for your calves and feet that will limber up your muscles, tendons, and ligaments and help you avoid future injury. It is important that you always make changes in your level and intensity of exercise gradually.

Many patients have found heel pain relief through the use of custom orthotics. These molded inserts for your shoes are designed for your particular feet, to cushion and correct any biomechanical issues you may have. Others find help with the use of night splints to keep the plantar fascia stretched during sleep. Replacing worn-out shoes is also helpful.

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) can also be very effective at treating chronic plantar fasciitis that does not respond to other remedies. This non-invasive method uses sound waves to stimulate healing. As a final resort, surgery can sometimes be used to correct this condition.

If you have heel pain, don’t delay. Axis Foot and Ankle Clinic can help you conquer the discomfort and get back into action. Call (403) 477-3338 and set up an appointment at one of our Calgary, Alberta locations: Scenic Acres Medical Clinic, Pacific Place Medical Clinic, or Deer Valley Family Medical Clinic. Dr. Andrew Irvine will help you find foot care solutions tailored just for you. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook for current information.

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