Plantar fasciitis: a real pain in the foot

With COVID-19 still affecting communities across the nation, you might be seizing opportunities to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. If your outdoor activities include running, you also will want to seize opportunities to avoid one of the most common conditions affecting runners – plantar fasciitis.

Ashley Dikis, D.P.M., AACFAS, and her fellow podiatric physicians at DMU Foot and Ankle can help.

“As someone who treats the foot and ankle and as an avid runner myself, I can appreciate the importance of keeping your feet happy and healthy,” she says.

What is plantar fasciitis?

Ashley Dikis, Des Moines University Foot and Ankle Clinic
Dr. Ashley Dikis, D.P.M., AACFAS

The plantar fascia, Dr. Dikis explains, is the thick band of tissue that extends along the bottom, or plantar, surface of the foot from the bottom of the heel bone to the ball of the foot. This long, strong and stringy tissue helps support the arch. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the tissue becomes inflamed. Runners can be susceptible because of the repetitive trauma their feet experience as they repeatedly hit the ground.

Plantar fasciitis tends to cause the most discomfort at the heel bone,” Dr. Dikis says. “Symptoms include pain in the first steps out of bed in the morning, and pain while standing after you’ve been sitting for a long time.”

As with many potential health issues, if you believe you have the condition, don’t panic, but don’t procrastinate, either. Contact a podiatric physician.

“It’s best treated when it’s caught early on,” she advises.

How do you treat plantar fasciitis?

Treatment options are multifactorial. Stretching – something runners often forget to do – is a good first step. Dr. Dikis recommends the classic runners’ stretch, in which you put your hands on a wall and lean forward, stretching the back of each leg along the Achilles tendon and calf. Icing the foot can help; one approach is to keep a bottle of water in the freezer and then roll your foot over it to decrease the pain and inflammation.

Other options include over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as Aleve or Ibuprofen, and adjusting one’s shoes with an orthotic device that has a sturdy plastic insole and a cushion. Some patients may be referred to a physical therapist, such as those at the DMU Physical Therapy Clinic, or given steroid injections for persistent pain. Surgery, Dr. Dikis says, is rarely needed.

“For the running population, our main goal is prevention,” she says. “We want to make sure that you never have to deal with plantar fasciitis, and the best way to do that is with a good stretching regimen.” Des Moines University Clinic houses a dedicated running and cycling clinic to evaluate issues and offer specialized treatment for each patient.

You can watch a video of Dr. Dikis discussing plantar fasciitis here.

Board-qualified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery, Dr. Dikis specializes in all aspects of care related to the forefoot, rearfoot and ankle including reconstruction, trauma, wound care and elective procedures. Previously, she was a foot and ankle surgeon in the department of orthopedics at the Greeneville Orthopaedic Clinic P.C. in Greeneville, TN. She earned her medical degree from the DMU College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery and completed a podiatric medicine and surgical residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Finding pain relief for your feet is easier than you think. Our team of exceptional podiatric physicians at the Des Moines University Clinic will work with you to treat you foot pain and help you find ways to stay active while you heal. We are currently offering in-clinic and virtual appointments for patients. Visit the DMU Clinic website or call 515-271-1731 to learn more.

Disclaimer: This content is created for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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