28 Sep Stabbing Heel Pain May Be Plantar Fasciitis
Do you ever get a stabbing pain in your heel when you first get up in the morning? Are your first steps really, really painful? If so, you may have a condition known as plantar fasciitis.
Your foot has a long ligament that runs from the heel bone to the ball of the foot. This thick connective tissue is called the plantar fascia and it helps maintain the arch in your foot. Additionally, it helps transmit the force of your body weight as you walk and run, and that places a tremendous stress on the tissue. Over time, the prolonged stress leads to inflammation called plantar fasciitis, which is characterized by the burning, stabbing pain in the heel or foot arch. If you have heel pain, inflammation of the plantar fascia is the likely culprit. Once you’re up and moving in the morning, the pain decreases or goes away entirely, but the pain might return if you stand for long periods of time.
The condition is very common in runners and people who play a sport that puts heightened pressure on the fascia tissue. Ballet dancers, for instance, also have this condition. If you’re overweight or pregnant, the added weight can take a toll on your foot, as can wearing shoes with an inadequate support structure. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, as many as 2 million people suffer from plantar fasciitis annually.
Doctors see the condition mostly in people aged 40 to 60 who tend to stand for long hours at their jobs—teachers, factory workers, and others.
If you have this type of heel pain, the worst thing you can do is ignore it because over time your pain will become chronic and will likely impede your daily activity. Most people with plantar fasciitis begin to walk differently to ease the pain, and the different gait often creates unintended problems in the foot, knee, back, or hip.
Can it be treated, and what are your options? With mild cases, stretching of the ligament and arch support shoe inserts usually solve the problem. Physical therapy is prescribed in cases where a biomechanical issue is causing the fasciitis. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that only about 5 percent of patients actually require surgery. A surgical procedure for plantar fasciitis is usually a last resort. Doctors typically will have you try non-surgical options for six months or longer before recommending surgery.
If you do have surgery, a technique called plantar fascia release is done and involves severing part of the ligament to release the tension and reduce inflammation. During this procedure, the surgeon may perform additional procedures as needed, such as removal of heel spurs that have resulted from the prolonged fasciitis, or loosening or stretching of certain foot nerves to relieve pain.