In Florida, we are lucky to have such sunny weather that you could wear sandals year-round, but it’s not recommended. Wearing shoes that don’t support your foot is one of the major causes of plantar fasciitis – an inflammation of the connective tissue on the underside of your foot. Sometimes it can feel like a sharp pain in your heel. In fact, many people assume that pain in the heel means a heel spur but most likely it’s irritation of the plantar fascia that is the causing your heel pain.
“It’s not just women choosing the wrong shoes for their foot health, men are guilty too,” said Dr. Leonardo Oliveira, a sports medicine physician at UCF Health, the College of Medicine physician practice. “You should save the flip flops for the beach and wear shoes that match your activity – like standing the whole day or working out. A change in shoes and increase in level of activity with new footwear can also aggravate the plantar fascia.”
You are more likely to get plantar fasciitis if you have a naturally high arch, or flat foot, or if your gait alignment is off. Also, not being flexible in your foot or even in your calves can also be a cause.
“For most patients with plantar fasciitis, I will prescribe an short course of anti-inflammatory medication, soft tissue stretching, icing, night splint, calf muscle stretching, leg strengthening and address the footwear,” said Dr. Oliveira. “It will naturally get better in a few months, but with the appropriate interventions we can get it to heal faster.”
As a last resort, Dr. Oliveira says that injection of cortisone or platelet-rich plasma may be a good option for the challenging cases that do not improve with the initial interventions.
To avoid plantar fasciitis, Dr. Oliveira recommends the following:
* Wear appropriate footwear for your activity. If you are going to be on your feet for several hours a day, you need to choose shoes that feel comfortable immediately. You should not have to “break in” your shoes. If you do, they should only be worn briefly for special occasions.
* Weight is a risk factor as well and losing some pounds is definitely beneficial if you are overweight.
* Calf muscle stretching twice a day is beneficial and will also help stretch the plantar fasciitis.
* Hip muscle weakness can also be playing a role. The hip, knee, ankle and foot are all connected. If you have prolonged foot pain, your alignment could be off and you should be evaluated.
Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at UCFHealth.com, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.
- Dr. Oliveira foot pain plantar fasciitis sports medicine