When you woke up this morning and stepped out of bed, did you feel a sharp, stabbing pain in the bottom of your heel? And when you got up from your desk at work, after a long morning in your chair, did you experience that same sharp pain? Here’s the good news: you aren’t alone, and your body isn’t falling apart. So, what is the likely cause of your problem? Keep reading to find out!
What Causes Early Morning Heel Pain?
Those stabbing pains you feel in the morning, or after long periods of sitting, are unlikely to be signs of aging. Instead, they are most likely caused by a common condition we see in our Elmhurst podiatry practice: plantar fasciitis.
This cause of heel pain, also known as heel spur syndrome, is a result of inflammation in your plantar fascia. Not sure what that is? Don’t worry, most people haven’t heard of the plantar fascia until they have a problem.
Your plantar fascia are ligaments that extend from your heel to your toes. When your calf muscles tighten up, or when other triggers begin to tug at this ligament, it may become inflamed. Quite often, the inflammation is a result of your body’s own mechanics: if you have flat or high-arched feet, you’re at a higher risk for this type of inflammation. And when that inflammation sets in, you are likely to experience heel pain.
But why is your discomfort most noticeable after long periods of lying or sitting down? When your legs stay in one position for quite some time—as is the case with a full night’s rest—your plantar fascia gets stuck in a shortened position. So, when you finally get out of that position, you are tugging at an already inflamed ligament. And that initial tug is quite painful.
How do I know if it’s Plantar Fasciitis?
With this condition, your heel pain will be intermittent at first. And, as we mentioned, it will likely show up right when you get out of bed, or after a long day at work or an extended ride in the car. Noticing this kind of discomfort already? It’s a great time to come see your podiatrist, and nip the problem in the bud before it gets worse.
But if you don’t—and don’t feel ashamed, most people won’t—that heel pain will become more intense, and will appear more frequently, in the days, weeks, and months to come. In fact, a problem that began in just one foot may soon spread to both, making even a simple stroll feel like agony.
How Do we Treat Plantar Fasciitis?
Luckily, this kind of heel pain responds well to conservative treatment. Some of our first modes of attack include stretches, orthotics, night splints, and physical therapy. Using these methods, the vast majority of our heel pain patients will fully recover within six months of starting their treatment plan.
For some people, however, six months of discomfort will just be too long a recovery period. Not to worry, we have options that can help speed up your recovery—and they don’t have to include surgery! Thanks to the arrival of our new MLS (multiwave locked system) laser, patients have been experiencing far shorter recoveries from heel pain.
That’s because this FDA approved laser therapy has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and has been proven to speed up your body’s own tissue repair process. Add in the laser’s analgesic (pain relief) effect, and you’ll understand why many patients choose to add MLS laser treatments to their heel pain recovery protocol.