Waking up to heel pain is a bothersome experience. Whether it’s a sharp, stabbing sensation or a dull ache, morning heel pain can significantly impact your ability to start the day on the right foot. While there can be many reasons for morning heel pain, consulting with Dr. Joel Foster is vital for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan so you start each day pain-free.
Causes of Morning Heel Pain
There are several reasons for heel pain, and it’s essential to identify the underlying condition to ensure proper treatment. Some of the possible causes of heel pain that occur when you first wake up include:
- Plantar fasciitis/fasciosis
- Heel spurs
- Achilles tendonitis
- Stress fractures
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome
- Nerve entrapment
- Rheumatoid arthritis
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
While it is oftentimes referred to incorrectly as plantar fasciitis, plantar fasciosis is the leading cause of morning heel pain. It occurs when the plantar fascia—the ligament that runs along the bottom of the foot connecting the heel bone to the toes—becomes thickened and irritated, and the surrounding tissues become inflammed. The pain is typically felt on the bottom of the heel and is often most noticeable when taking your first steps in the morning or when standing after periods of rest. Symptoms of plantar fasciosis often include:
- Sharp or stabbing pain in the heel
- Pain that improves with activity but may return after prolonged periods of standing or walking
- Tenderness and inflammation in the bottom of the foot
- Painful or aching arches
Why You Should See Dr. Joel Foster if You Have Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis/Fasciosis
Dr. Joel Foster has the expertise to differentiate between various causes of heel pain and accurately diagnose conditions such as plantar fasciitis/fasciosis. He will evaluate your symptoms, review your medical history, and perform a physical examination. After the diagnosis, he will develop a customized treatment plan based on the severity of your symptoms and the underlying cause of your heel pain. If it’s a plantar fascial issue, a combination of conservative treatments is often effective, such as:
- Icing and Aquaroll therapy
- Stretching exercises
- Custom foot orthotics
- Physical therapy
- Over-the-counter pain medication
- Footwear modifications
In some cases, more advanced treatments like Extracorporeal Pulse Activation Technology (EPAT), therapeutic laser treatment or corticosteroid injections may be recommended. If non-surgical options don’t provide relief from your heel pain, surgery may be an option to consider. One surgical option for plantar fascial pain is HyProCure. This option permanently realigns and restores balance to your feet.
Complications from Untreated Plantar Fasciitis/Fasciosis
This condition can have a significant impact on your daily activities and overall quality of life, including, but not limited to:
- Chronic heel pain. This worsens over time if left untreated, making it difficult to stand, walk, or engage in physical activities.
- Heel spurs. Prolonged stress and inflammation of the plantar structures lead to the formation of heel spurs, which are bony growths on the heel bone. Although not all heel spurs cause pain, they contribute to further discomfort and in severe cases, require surgical intervention.
- Altered gait. To avoid pain caused by plantar fasciosis, you may unconsciously change your walking pattern. This altered gait can lead to additional strain on other parts of your feet, as well as your knees, legs, hips, and back, potentially causing further musculoskeletal issues and imbalances.
- Decreased mobility. Severe untreated plantar fasciosis limits mobility and discourages you from participating in physical activities. This reduction in activity can negatively impact your overall health and well-being.