Early mornings are hard enough for most people, especially before you’ve had your coffee, your shower, your run, or whatever it is you do to get ready for the day. They’re even harder when you know that first step out of bed is going to release a sharp, stabbing pain that won’t let up until you’ve had a few minutes to walk around.
Why is morning heel pain such a problem? It doesn’t really seem to make much sense. You just spent all night resting. Shouldn’t that make the pain go away?
Here’s what’s going on: morning heel pain is a classic symptom of plantar fasciitis, the most common type of heel pain experienced by American adults. When your feet get tired and worn out by the constant pressure of everyday activity, the soft tissues can swell. Microscopic tearing may even develop just in front of the heel in in the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs across most of your sole.
As you sleep, these irritated and inflamed tissues—along with the calf muscles—tend to tense up. (This can also happen during other long periods of non-weight-bearing activity, such as sitting at a desk or on a couch for several hours.) When you finally stand up again, all these tissues suddenly have to stretch out again, and aren’t ready for the weight and pressure. Give it a few minutes, however, and the pain subsides as the muscles, tendons, and ligaments gradually relax.
Unfortunately, plantar fasciitis pain won’t stick to the mornings forever. As the condition progresses, pain becomes more persistent, and more insistent, too. You’re definitely going to want to visit our office for treatment before it gets to that point.
There is good news. In a clear majority of cases, plantar fasciitis can be fully eliminated using conservative treatment methods. Surgery is almost never necessary. Depending on the types of activities or foot problems that are causing your pain in the first place, treatments might include custom orthotics, calf stretches, medications, splints you wear at night to keep tissues elongated, or even just a new pair of shoes.