Foot and ankle pain can be caused by a variety of things, from plantar fasciitis to Achilles tendinitis. If you’re waking up in the morning with heel pain, there are some at-home remedies you can try, like ice and rest. However, if your pain is more debilitating, it’s best to visit a doctor or orthopaedic doctor for diagnosis and treatment options.
Foot and ankle pain can make it difficult to walk or even stand. The pain may be sharp or dull, and it can radiate up the leg. Foot and ankle pain can be caused by injury, overuse, or chronic conditions like arthritis.
If you’re experiencing foot and ankle pain, there are some at-home remedies you can try, like icing the affected area and resting. You can also take over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen. If your pain is severe or doesn’t improve with at-home treatment, it’s best to visit a doctor or orthopaedic doctor for diagnosis and treatment options.
Your doctor will likely take a medical history and perform a physical examination. They may also order imaging tests, like X-rays or an MRI, to get a better look at the structures in your foot and ankle. Based on their findings, they’ll develop a treatment plan that may include things like medication, physical therapy, or surgery.
If you’re dealing with foot and ankle pain, there are options for treatment. Talk to your doctor to find the best plan for you.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention
Searing heel pain that’s worse with your first few steps of the day is the main symptom of plantar fasciitis and is an often unmistakable sign of the condition. If the heel pain does not go away after a few weeks, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with an orthopaedic doctor.
An orthopaedic doctor will talk to you about your pain and symptoms, and examine your feet to rule out other conditions that can cause heel pain. Your orthopaedic doctor may order an X-ray or other tests to make sure there isn’t a fracture in your foot or something else that’s causing the pain.
Heel spurs — a small, pointed overgrowth of bone on the heel — are commonly found in people with plantar fasciitis. About half of patients with plantar fasciitis have heel spurs. But heel spurs are seen on X-rays quite often in people who don’t have any foot problems. So having a heel spur doesn’t necessarily mean you have plantar fasciitis.
Other conditions that can cause similar pain include:
– Achilles tendinitis
– Tarsal tunnel syndrome
– Stress fracture
– Reactive arthritis (formerly called Reiter’s disease)
Treatment for plantar fasciitis may vary, and successfully treating plantar fasciitis can take several months.
Here are some common treatments:
Rest and ice: You may need to avoid putting weight on your heel for a short time. Try over-the-counter pain relievers. Put ice on your heel for 20 minutes three times a day.
Exercises and stretching: Do toe stretches, calf stretches and Achilles tendon stretches daily. These exercises should be done both before you get out of bed in the morning, and again at the end of the day.
Orthotics or shoe inserts: If exercising doesn’t improve the pain, ask your doctor about custom-made shoe inserts (orthotics). You can also try over-the-counter arch supports or heel pads.
Night splints: Use a night splint to keep your foot stretched while you sleep. This may help reduce morning pain and stiffness caused by the plantar fascia tightening during the night.
Physical therapy: A physical therapist can show you how to do exercises that stretch and strengthen your calf muscles and Achilles tendon as well as other exercises that condition the plantar fascia. Ultrasound treatments or electrical nerve stimulation may also help.
Steroid injections: Injections of corticosteroids into the heel can provide temporary pain relief.
Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT): ESWT uses sound waves to deliver high-energy pulses into the plantar fascia to promote healing. This treatment is still being studied and its long-term effectiveness is not yet known.
Surgery: If other treatments don’t work, your doctor may suggest surgery to release part of the plantar fascia or to remove a bone spur. About 1 in 20 people with plantar fasciitis needs surgery. (1) Foot surgery can be very effective, but there are usually other treatments you can try first.
You can help reduce your risk of developing plantar fasciitis by doing the following:
- Wear comfortable shoes that fit well and provide good arch support.
- Avoid high heels or shoes that don’t fit well.
- Be careful when you increase your activity level to avoid injury. Start slowly and gradually increase the time, distance, and intensity of your activities.
- Warm up before you exercise, and cool down and stretch afterward.
- If you play tennis, run, or jog, wear supportive shoes designed for those activities.
- If you are overweight, lose weight if possible.
- Do exercises that stretch your calf muscles and Achilles tendon (heel cord) both before and after workouts.
There are many potential causes of this type of pain, but by understanding the anatomy of the foot and how to properly stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons, you can help reduce your risk of experiencing discomfort in the morning.