Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition that affects the heel and makes it difficult to walk normally, especially first thing in the morning. Fortunately, the discomfort can often be alleviated through home care and exercises. However, in some cases, you need to visit a foot doctor to get relief. If you’re not sure whether you should see a physician, learn the three signs that indicate you need professional treatment.
The severity of your heel pain is often the best indicator of whether you should see a foot doctor for your plantar fasciitis. Usually, the discomfort is worst in the morning or after other periods of inactivity when the tissue in the heel is tight – the soreness often decreases as you become more active. You may also feel more uncomfortable in bare feet or shoes that have little padding in the sole. If your pain doesn’t lessen as you move around more or put on a pair of supportive shoes, you should make an appointment with a medical professional.
Type of Pain
Typically, plantar fasciitis pain is most acute when you put weight on your feet. That’s what makes walking, running, and many other activities so uncomfortable. However, if the discomfort in your heel continues even when you have no weight on it, you should call your foot doctor to receive professional treatment.
It can take months to get rid of the pain with plantar fasciitis treatment. If you are trying home treatment and exercises, you need to be patient so that it has time to work. However, if your discomfort becomes chronic, that’s usually a sign that you should see a physician. When you have pain in your heel that lasts more than seven days even after you ice it, rest it, and treat it with over-the-counter pain relievers, you should consult a foot doctor. Make note of how long it takes for the ache in your heel to go away as you move around too – if it begins to take longer and longer, seek medical assistance, even if you haven’t had discomfort for a week.
When you see your physician, treatment may vary depending on the severity of your condition. Rest is usually advised, and you may also need to modify the way that you walk and run. If you’re an avid runner, you may need to switch to a different form of exercise, such as swimming, to avoid putting too much stress on your heel. Massaging and stretching the area is also usually recommended to help loosen the tightness. A night splint may be recommended too, because it can help provide a gentle stretch of the inflamed tissue as you sleep. Your foot doctor may suggest anti-inflammatory medications as well. In extreme cases, steroidal injections in the heel may be necessary.
You should keep in mind that it may take as many as three months before your symptoms go away. Usually, the longer that you’ve been experiencing plantar fasciitis, the longer it takes to go away.