Heel and arch pain are the most common foot complaints of individuals over the age of 40. The group that most commonly experiences heel and arch pain consist of middle-aged women. In addition, active athletes and people working on hard surfaces or walking great distances are susceptible to plantar fascitis and developing heel spurs or sore arches. The pain can progressively get worse so that activities of daily living are adversely affected.
Plantar Fascia Defined
The plantar fascia connects to the calcaneus or heel bone on the undersurface of the foot to the bones of the toes. Its purpose is to support the large arch of the foot. When the fascia becomes injured or inflamed, it’s called plantar fascitis.
What Can Cause Plantar Fascitis?
Plantar fascitis begins with injury to the ligaments and fascia. The fascia helps to maintain the large arch on the inside of the foot. It may affect one or both feet. In most cases, it begins gradually and may be made worse by the following:
- Poorly Fitting Shoes – Shoes lacking firm shanks and counters allow the foot to override the shoe so it appears like the foot has slid off the sole of the shoe. This is commonly called “running over the shoe”.
- Pronation and Pes Planus – “Flat feet” is a rolling inward of the arch.
- Prolonged Standing on Hard Surfaces Such as Concrete
- Walking, Dancing or Running Great Distances – These result in repetitive strain on the bottom of the foot.
- Being Overweight – Extra weight on the arches is stressful.
- Sex – Females over age 40 are more susceptible.
Symptoms of Plantar Fascitis
The presentation of complaints to the doctor includes heel pain upon arising first thing in the morning. The first dozen steps or so are very painful until the fascia loosens up and becomes more flexible. The pain seems to subside only to get worse as the day progresses.
Diagnosis of Plantar Fascitis
The diagnosis of plantar fascitis is arrived at from a combination of
history and physical examination of the foot and lower leg. A classic complaint is heel pain when getting out of bed and beginning to walk. Compression of the calcaneus or heel bone on the sides of the heel is painful. X-rays may be necessary if the doctor suspects a stress fracture to one of the small bones of the foot. Many of the causes of plantar fascitis may contribute to a stress fracture in the foot.
Pain and numbness in the foot at night may also be attributed to a condition called tarsal tunnel sydrome. This is a nerve entrapment in the ankle that may produce similar symptoms as those found with plantar fascitis. Both conditions can bother at night when trying to sleep. Other conditions including arthritis, gout and other systemic problems can also contribute to foot pain.
The immediate treatment goal is to reduce the swelling and inflammation to the soft tissue in the foot. Ice treatment to the foot is initially prescribed. Wearing shoes with a firm counter and shank to prevent bowing of the shoe as well as “running over the side of the shoe” is recommended. Discontinuing running and sports activities reduces stress on the foot. The use of orthotics can be very helpful in restoring the arch (flat foot) and correcting pronation (turning in of the foot). Restoring the arch reduces the stress on the knee, hip and spine. Specific exercises will be given for the foot.
It’s difficult for any one treatment protocol to resolve or control plantar fascitis. The combination of proper footwear, treatment, exercise and modification of activity can be successful. Patient compliance is essential to help in the care and treatment. It may take from a few weeks to several months to resolve the problem. Re-injury and aggravation play a large role in the recovery process. The importance of compliance cannot be stressed enough.
If plantar fascitis is ignored and not treated, it may complicate or contribute to ankle, knee, hip and spinal complaints. The biomechanics of gait may be altered.
The Podiatrist has experience in the care and treatment of plantar fascitis and heel spurs. Call today to make an appointment.
A well-made shoe that fits right is not only more comfortable for your children, but can help them avoid injury. Do you know what features you should look for in your child’s footwear?
A pair of well-made shoes can keep children safe from foot problems such as sprains and strains, both in class and on the playground
Here are some tips for how to buy children’s shoes.
- Children’s feet change with age. Shoe and sock size may change every few months as a child’s feet grow. Shoes that don’t fit properly can aggravate the feet. Always measure a child’s feet before buying shoes, and watch for signs of irritation.
- Never hand down footwear. Just because a shoe size fits one child comfortably doesn’t mean it will fit another the same way. Also, sharing shoes can spread fungi like athlete’s foot and nail fungus.
- Examine the heels. Children may wear through the heels of shoes quicker than outgrowing shoes themselves. Uneven heel wear can indicate a foot problem that should be checked by a podiatrist.
- Take your child shoe shopping. Every shoe fits differently. Letting a child have a say in the shoe buying process promotes healthy foot habits down the road.
- Always buy for the larger foot. Feet are seldom precisely the same size. Buy shoes that do not need a “break-in” period. Shoes should be comfortable immediately. Also make sure to have your child try on shoes with socks or tights, if that’s how they’ll be worn
Tips for Buying Children’s Athletic Footwear.
A child’s court shoe:
- should support both sides of the foot, due to the quick lateral movements and weight shifts in court sports; and
- provide a flexible sole for fast changes of direction.
A child’s running shoe:
- should provide maximum shock absorption to help runners avoid ailments such as shin splints and knee pain; and
- control the way your child’s heel strikes the ground, so the rest of the foot can fall correctly.
- should be made of a natural/synthetic blend, as this helps “wick” away moisture best; and
- not contain any large seams that can cause blisters or irritation.
Visit The Podiatrist if you have any questions.
With the Olympics approaching in July, you can expect to witness some amazing feats of athleticism this summer. But Olympic athletes won’t be the only ones competing hard in sports – so will your kids.
Millions of children worldwide will participate in sports this year, from softball to soccer and swimming to cycling. No matter what their sport or whether they play competitively or just for fun, they will have one important thing in common: They’ll need their feet to be pain-free if they’re going to play their best and prevent injuries.
Sports play a significant role in the lives of millions of young athletes. Parents need to be aware that sports, which require a substantial amount of running, turning, and contact, can translate to injuries. Protecting children’s feet from injuries, and bringing them to a podiatrist when problems occur, can help keep kids in the game and make the sport more enjoyable.
Some tips for helping protect children’s feet while playing sports:
* Protective taping of the ankles is often necessary to help prevent sprains or fractures.
* Buying a shoe designed for the specific sport your child plays not only improves your child’s performance in the sport, it also can help protect him or her from serious foot and ankle injuries.
* Without the right sock, even the best athletic shoe won’t score points-on the field or off. Athletic socks should consist of a natural/synthetic blend, which is best at wicking away moisture and minimizing foot odour. Socks should not have large seams that might cause blisters or irritation.
Commonly played sports and the risks associated with them include:
* Netball and Basketball – Children playing basketball may be at risk for ankle sprains, tendinitis and plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the thick band of tissue on the sole of the foot). To minimize the risk of foot injury, choose a shoe with a thick, stiff sole, high ankle support and shock absorption.
* Tennis – The rapid, repetitive lateral movements and shifting of weight required of tennis players can lead to injuries such as ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis and corns or calluses. Tennis players will do best with a flexible-soled shoe that supports both sides of the foot.
* Running – Movements required of runners include leg extension and hitting the balls of the feet with a great deal of force. Running can lead to shin splints, heel pain and blisters. A good running shoe should offer good support and shock absorption. In some cases, custom orthotics may be necessary to provide additional support and control of foot motion.
* Rugby and Soccer – The running, jumping and lateral movements required of rugby and soccer players can lead to many foot injuries, with heel pain and shin splints being among the most common. Rugby and soccer boots should provide multiple cleats in the heel area and enough room for thick .
Sports-related foot and ankle injuries are on the rise as more children participate actively in sports. Parents need to be vigilant to ensure children’s feet remain healthy and safe. And remember – lack of complaint by a child is not a reliable sign that everything is fine. The bones of growing feet are so flexible that they can be twisted and distorted without the child being aware of it.
Ensuring your child’s feet stay healthy could go a long way – your young athlete could one day be the next superstar athlete. If your child participates in strenuous sports, monitor his or her foot health closely. If you suspect a problem, take your child to The Podiatrist for evaluation and treatment