Sharp, Stabbing Heel Pain

Do you experience heel pain? Does the pain seem to hurt the most as soon as you step out of bed first thing in the morning? If you feel a sharp, stabbing, achy pain on the bottom of your heel as soon as you take the first step in the morning or even after long periods of sitting, you may be experiencing "plantar fasciitis" or also referred to as "plantar fasciosis." 

Every time you step down and put weight on your feet, your feet adapts to the surface by flattening out. This motion causes the fibers on the bottom of your feet to stretch out and it pulls onto your heel bone, or calcaneus, causing an inflammatory reaction that your mind perceives as pain. After long periods of inactivity, such as during sleep, these fibers stay contracted until you take your first step out of bed. This morning pain is referred to as "post-static dyskinesia," roughly translated to be "after immobilization movement." So after a period of not moving, the pain is incited once you move.

The most common cause of heel pain is generally irritation to the plantar fascia but other causes such as stress, trauma, a cyst, tendon injury, or arthritis may also cause heel pain. All have a slightly different characteristic so it is important to be able to describe your pain to your physician. Your doctors may also order x-rays to rule out a more serious condition or use ultrasound to help diagnose the problem.

Almost anyone can get plantar fasciitis and it worsens in people with a high body mass index. With more weight being exerted on the feet, the fascia continues to stretch and overtime it becomes irritated and inflamed much like overstretching a muscle. With early diagnosis, the majority of cases can be treated without surgery. 

Dr. Harvey Danciger
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Dr. Harvey Danciger is a podiatrist and foot surgeon in Palm Desert, CA specializing in the foot and ankle
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