If you’ve got heel pain, you’re not alone! We asked orthopaedic surgeon DR SENG CHUSHENG to fill us in on the most common cause of this pain, plantar fasciitis, when to see a doctor and plantar fasciitis treatment options.
What causes plantar fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is the thick band of tissue that connects your heel to your toes at the bottom of the foot. It’s responsible for supporting muscles in the foot and absorbing shock from movements. When this band of tissue stretches or tears from overexertion, it becomes inflamed. This causes stabbing pain in the heel as a result. For many patients, this pain is especially severe when they wake up and take their first steps in the morning or after sitting for a long period of time.
You’re more likely to experience heel pain from plantar fasciitis if:
- you’re a runner;
- you’ve got a job that requires long hours of standing on your feet;
- you frequently wear high heels or shoes that don’t have adequate support; • you’ve got flat feet or high arched feet;
- you’re between the age of 40 and 60; or
- you’ve got excess body weight that puts additional stress on your foot.
When should a doctor be consulted?
If the pain has lasted between three and six months, and is impacting your daily activities, or if it worsens with prolonged weight bearing, you will definitely want to see a doctor. It’s advisable to see a doctor immediately if the onset of the pain was sudden and knife-like, especially after a minor injury.
Other symptoms to see a doctor for include burning pain, numbness and tingling (especially at night), and swelling, bruising or skin redness over the posterior heel.
A doctor can then examine your foot and figure out the right treatment plan before the condition becomes chronic.
How can plantar fasciitis be treated?
Usually, symptoms can be resolved with painkillers and physiotherapy to stretch and strengthen the muscles and increase flexibility. Changing your footwear is also key in alleviating the pain. Tight- fitting, improper shoes can exacerbate the pain, so you’ll want to choose footwear with thicker, well-cushioned midsoles instead.
If heel pain from plantar fasciitis doesn’t subside within six to 18 months of trying these conservative options, your doctor may recommend other plantar fasciitis treatment options including shockwave therapy and PRP (platelet rich plasma) injections to accelerate the healing process.
There’s also a safe, minimally invasive outpatient surgery that can help. Called the Tenex procedure, it uses ultrasound imaging to guide a needle-like probe into the inflamed tissue, and then releases high-frequency ultrasound vibrations to break up the diseased tissue that’s causing the pain.
Axis Orthopaedic Centre
#07-49 Mount Elizabeth Novena Medical Centre, 38 Irrawaddy Road
#04-08 Parkway East Medical Centre, 319 Joo Chiat Place
9711 8888 | axisortho.com.sg
This article first appeared in the August 2022 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!