SUMMER season is approaching and with it comes the intense heat of the sun and the anticipation of various individuals to do fun and exciting outdoor activities.
Said activities could involve traveling, camping, island hopping, trekking, biking, wakeboarding, rock climbing, etc.
Summer is fun, however, too much strenuous activities can make one feel exhausted and in need of rest. And when morning comes, it’s not the alarm clock that wakes you up, rather the stabbing pain in your heels which is most likely Plantar Fasciitis.
Plantar Fasciitis (known as “Jogger’s heel,” “Tennis heel,” and “Policeman’s heel”), according to doctor Neal Rana, specialist on Occupational Medicine and Pathology and the chairman of the Office of Documents and Records Control of Northern Mindanao Medical Center, is one of the common forms of heel pain caused by degenerative irritation of a connective tissue in our feet, the “Plantar Fascia.”
The Plantar Fascia is the tissue that we are standing in as it supports the arch of our foot. Prolong standing, excessive stretching such as exercise, mountain climbing and at times accidental trauma can cause small tears to this ligament that eventually results to damage and pain.
“Repetitive stress, overuse or trauma to the Plantar Fascia results to pain of the Plantar Fascia. The typical symptom is a sharp pain localized in our heel,” Rana said.
“This is usually felt early in the morning or after long periods without weight bearing. The patient may be seen limping and prefers to walk in toes. The pain often times decreases few hours after walking then returns back with increasing severity,” he added.
The pain is often relieved when the affected foot is elevated, Rana said, while sprinting and barefoot walking may aggravate the pain.
Apart from active people or athletes who are often doing strenuous activities, females of ages 40 to 60 are also at risk of having the Plantar Fasciitis. Though, said disease is equally seen in gender for young adults.
Most of the time laboratory examination and xrays are not needed to diagnose Plantar Fasciitis. But if the pain is recurrent or persistent despite treatment, x-rays maybe necessary to rule out the existence of bony spurs or abnormal bone growths, even fractures.
“Fifty percent of symptomatic patients with Plantar Fasciitis have heel spurs or tiny bone overgrowth within the heel. As for blood test, no specific blood test is recommended unless other diseases are entertained such as gout, diabetes, etc.,” Rana said.
Plantar Fasciitis is typically a self-limited condition and resolution is seen for up to 90 percent with nonsurgical procedures, according to Rana.
As for new patients, careful history and physical examination should be taken and when the diagnosis is certain, pain management must be addressed with pain relievers like paracetamol or ibuprofen.
Rana said the mnemonic RICE - rest, ice pack, corticosteroid and elevation - can be used to manage Plantar Fasciitis.
However, taking steroids or anti-inflammatory medicines should be done after a doctor’s consult.
“To prevent the development of Plantar Fasciitis, one should decrease repetitive activities that load a lot of stress to your foot. As much as possible, avoid exercising in hard surfaces, prolonged and excessive jumping or even walking. Weight loss is likewise beneficial for those obese or overweight,” Rana said.
“Plantar Fasciitis is very common and I hope all of us will also take care of our feet just as we care for our skin to avoid sunburn or drink fluids to avoid dehydration. Summer is a great time to celebrate and enjoy life while appreciating its beauty. Have fun, love your feet and keep walking,” he added.