Plantar Fasciitis: A Real Pain in the Foot

Your foot is made up of several moving parts, including bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. One such part is a ligament called the plantar fascia, which runs the length of your foot, connecting your heel to your toes. When this band of tissue becomes inflamed, it can lead to heel and foot pain and a condition known as plantar fasciitis (PLAN-ter fash-ee-EYE-tus).

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

Your plantar fascia works like a shock absorber for your body and supports your arches. Over time, if the shock absorbers endure too much strain, it can lead to tiny tears along and within the plantar fascia. These small tears create pain, swelling, and inflammation. Unfortunately, this condition is not uncommon and is estimated to affect as many as 10% of the U.S. population.

While it isn’t always clear what causes plantar fasciitis in every person who has it, some risk factors increase the chances of developing it. Plantar fasciitis is most common in middle-aged individuals between the ages of 40 and 60, although it can develop at any age. This is especially true for those who spend a lot of time on their feet, such as athletes or soldiers. Below are some additional factors that increase the likelihood of developing plantar fasciitis:

  1. Excessive pronation when walking (feet rolling inward)
  2. High arches or flat feet
  3. Obesity
  4. Ill-fitting or worn-out shoes that no longer provide proper support
  5. Certain kinds of exercise that place strain on the heel like long-distance running, ballet, dancing, and jumping
  6. Occupations that require a lot of walking or standing like teaching, factory work, and retail
  7. Tight Achilles tendons or calf muscles

Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis

The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is a stabbing pain along the bottom of your foot near your heel. It is especially pronounced when first getting out of bed in the morning, after standing for long periods of time, or upon standing after sitting or lying down for a while.

You may also notice the pain after exercising, but not usually during a workout. If you have foot pain at night, it is most likely a different condition such as arthritis or tarsal tunnel syndrome, neither of which are related to plantar fasciitis.

How Is Plantar Fasciitis Treated?

Since plantar fasciitis develops in each person for varying reasons, there’s not a single solution that will help everyone. Your doctor will take into consideration your symptoms, occupation, leisure activities, and lifestyle to find a solution that will work best for you. However, there are some things you can do that may help reduce your pain, including:

  1. Toe, calf, and towel stretches
  2. Wearing shoes that provide adequate arch support and cushioning, or using orthotic inserts in both shoes even if the plantar fasciitis only affects one foot
  3. Resting your feet, especially when you’ve been standing or walking for extended periods of time
  4. Avoiding running or walking on hard surfaces
  5. Icing your heels if you are experiencing pain and swelling, or taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers like ibuprofen or naproxen

How Orthotics Can Help with Plantar Fasciitis

Orthotic inserts are a common and effective treatment option for individuals suffering from plantar fasciitis. These specialized shoe inserts are designed to provide additional support, cushioning, and alignment to the foot, which can help alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with the condition.

Orthotics work by redistributing the pressure and weight placed on the foot during movement. They help to reduce strain on the plantar fascia and provide proper arch support, promoting a more natural alignment of the foot and reducing excessive pronation or supination. By providing support and stability, orthotics can help prevent further damage to the plantar fascia and aid in the healing process.

There are different types of orthotics available, including over-the-counter inserts and custom-made orthotics. Over-the-counter inserts can provide some relief for mild cases of plantar fasciitis, but they may not address specific biomechanical issues or provide optimal support for everyone. Custom-made orthotics, on the other hand, are tailored to the individual’s unique foot structure and needs, offering a more personalized and precise solution.

When considering orthotics for plantar fasciitis, it is essential to consult with Albany Podiatry. They can evaluate your condition, assess your foot mechanics, and recommend the most suitable type of orthotics for your specific needs. Custom orthotics may require a mold or scan of your feet to ensure an accurate fit and optimal support.

By wearing orthotics regularly, individuals with plantar fasciitis can experience reduced pain, improved foot function, and an enhanced ability to engage in daily activities. Orthotics can be used with other treatment modalities such as stretching exercises, physical therapy, and footwear modifications to provide comprehensive relief and aid in the long-term management of plantar fasciitis.

If you are suffering from plantar fasciitis, consulting with a podiatrist and considering orthotics as part of your treatment plan can be a step towards finding lasting relief and restoring your foot health.

Other In-Office Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis

In addition to orthotics, there are several other in-office treatments available that can help alleviate the symptoms of plantar fasciitis and promote healing. These treatments are typically administered by a podiatrist or foot specialist and can be effective in combination with other conservative measures. Here are some commonly used in-office treatments for plantar fasciitis:


Corticosteroid injections may be recommended for individuals with severe or persistent plantar fasciitis pain. These injections deliver anti-inflammatory medication directly into the affected area, reducing inflammation and providing temporary relief. It’s important to note that repeated corticosteroid injections should be used judiciously to avoid potential side effects and should be accompanied by other treatment modalities for long-term management.

Laser Therapy

Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is a non-invasive treatment that uses specific wavelengths of light to stimulate healing and reduce pain. This therapy can help improve blood circulation, accelerate tissue repair, and decrease inflammation in the plantar fascia. Laser therapy sessions are typically painless and can be performed during an office visit. Multiple sessions may be required to achieve optimal results.

Shock Wave Therapy

Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) is a non-surgical procedure that delivers high-energy sound waves to the affected area. This treatment stimulates the body’s natural healing processes, reduces inflammation, and promotes tissue regeneration. Shock wave therapy has shown promising results in relieving pain and improving function in individuals with plantar fasciitis. It is usually performed in a series of sessions, and some individuals may experience temporary discomfort during the procedure.

Night Splints

Night splints are devices worn during sleep to stretch the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon. These splints keep the foot in a dorsiflexed position, preventing the plantar fascia from tightening overnight. By maintaining a gentle stretch on the affected tissues, night splints can reduce morning heel pain and stiffness. They are often recommended for individuals with persistent symptoms or tight calf muscles.

Equinus Boots

Equinus boots, also known as walking boots or controlled ankle motion (CAM) boots, are immobilizing devices that restrict ankle movement and provide support to the foot and lower leg. These boots can be used to offload pressure from the plantar fascia, allowing it to heal. Equinus boots are typically worn for a specified period, as advised by a healthcare professional, and may be part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

Taping and Strapping

Taping and strapping techniques can provide temporary relief and support for individuals with plantar fasciitis. Various taping methods can help stabilize the foot, reduce stress on the plantar fascia, and promote proper alignment. These techniques are often performed by a healthcare professional and can be combined with other treatments for optimal results.

It’s important to consult with a podiatrist or foot specialist to determine which in-office treatments are most suitable for your specific condition. They will consider your symptoms, medical history, and individual needs to create a personalized treatment plan that addresses your plantar fasciitis effectively. With the right combination of therapies, you can find relief and support your foot’s healing process.

If you think you have plantar fasciitis, contact Albany Podiatry today. We would love to help you find some relief!

Call Us Text Us