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According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, approximately 2 million patients are treated annually for plantar fasciitis, a condition in which the band of tissue that supports the arch becomes irritated or inflamed from the stress you place on your feet.

This inflammation results in pain on the bottom of the foot near the heel -- often particularly prominent during the first few steps after getting out of bed in the morning, after a long period of rest and after exercising.

Common risk factors for plantar fasciitis include increased impact (running, for example), tight calf muscles that make it difficult to flex the foot, obesity and a very high arch.

While the condition can be entirely eliminated in some circumstances, such as when plantar fasciitis is the result of a specific athletic injury or a new exercise routine, it is usually chronic.

Seeking treatment

More than 90 percent of patients with plantar fasciitis will find their symptoms improving within 10 months of starting simple treatments, including ice, rest, at-home exercises and over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory medications.

Some patients also benefit from cortisone injections, supportive shoes or orthotics, night splints, physical therapy, or extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT), a noninvasive procedure that uses high-energy shockwave impulses to stimulate the healing process in damaged tissue.

Surgery, while rarely necessary, may be considered after 12 months if all nonsurgical measures are found to be ineffective.

Dr. Kory Miskin, podiatrist, is accepting new patients in the Siloam Springs area. To schedule an appointment, call (479) 553-2664 today.

At-home exercises for plantar fasciitis

Since tight muscles in the calves and feet can aggravate plantar fasciitis, stretching is a safe, effective method for relieving painful symptoms. Practice the following exercises to improve symptoms.

• Calf stretch -- Stand facing a wall with both feet apart and pointing forward. Lean against the wall for support, and bend the front knee forward while keeping the back leg straight. With both feet planted on the ground, continue to shift forward until you feel a stretch in the calf, and then hold that position for 45 seconds. Repeat two to three times and practice this exercise four to six times daily.

• Icy arch roll -- Freeze a water bottle, golf ball or tennis ball, and roll your foot back and forth over the frozen object for three to five minutes. Repeat two times daily.

• Toe curls -- From sitting or standing, place your bare foot on the short side of a small towel. Clench the towel with your toes, and pull toward you using only your toes. Relax your toes, and repeat 10 times. Repeat this exercise one to two times daily.

• Toe extensions -- Sitting with your legs crossed, grasp the toes of the leg on top with one hand, and bend your toes and ankle upwards as far as possible while simultaneously massaging the arch with your other hand. Hold for 10 seconds, relax and repeat this cycle for two to three minutes. Repeat this exercise two to four times daily.

Tidbits

Are your shoes to blame? Symptoms of plantar fasciitis can sometimes be the result of unsupportive shoes, such as ballet flats and flip-flops. While plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, other causes include Achilles tendonitis, bursitis and nerve pain.

Your lower back pain may be linked to your feet. Pain or a deformity in the feet affects the way you walk, which can put stress on your ankles, knees, hip and lower back.

General News on 10/23/2019

Print Headline: Healing the heel

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