Is this plantar fasciitis?
January 12, 2014 11:15 PM   Subscribe

The bottom of my left heel, towards the outside edge, is very tender when I get up. Was very bad this morning after jog last night. I've seen videos of plantar fasciitis taping therapy but it doesn't seem to address my area of pain. Am I on the right track? I'd like to avoid the cost of a doctor.
posted by Foam Pants to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
No, plantar fasciitis is connective tissue, it tends to hurt in your arch. What you're describing sounds like a deep heel bruise, which hurts like damn but often doesn't have any marks.

I think you can at least give it a couple of days of rest before deciding if it's serious enough for a doctor. It might get worse for a day or so, but if it gets worse and stays worse you might need to have it looked at.

You can try ice and elevation in the meantime, and maybe check your shoe for anything that might have pressed on that spot.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:23 PM on January 12, 2014

I had exactly this, and thought the same thing. No idea if it was, but it eventually went away. It does come back if I run though, so needless to say, I don't do any running anymore...
posted by ryanbryan at 12:43 AM on January 13, 2014

If it keeps hurting, especially when you wear different shoes, it may be a heel spur. Just a thought.
posted by aryma at 12:54 AM on January 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Can you expand on your description?

1) Did the pain come on suddenly after last night's run, or has it had a gradual onset? If it's sudden, it's almost certainly not PF.

2) Does your heel hurt every morning when you get up, or after you get up after sitting for a while? Does a bit of walking tend to lesson the pain? Or did your heel start hurting this morning and still hurts, no matter what? PF hurts most when you try to walk after a rest or sleep. When PF gets really bad, extended walking also hurts.

PF affects the arch, but the pain can definitely be felt in the heel. However, I don't think it's usually localized on the outside edge.

Here's some general care that should help now whether it's PF or a heel bruise or some similar heel injury.

1) Stop running. Walk moderately as needed to get things done in your life, but don't walk as an alternate exercise.
2) Stretch your calves and Achilles tendon GENTLY a couple of times a day. In addition, before you get out of bed in the morning, lie on your back, raise one leg straight-ish up (again, be gentle and don't force a 90 degree angle -- this will not help your foot and could stress out another part of your body), and gently flex your foot to stretch the calf.
3) Apply ice to your heel (using a thin cloth to protect your skin) a couple of times a day for no more than 10-15 minutes.
4) Take recommended amounts of advil or aspirin to help reduce any inflammation. Remember that Tylenol only helps with pain, not inflammation.

If it isn't better in a couple of days, let us know. I would strongly advise seeing a doctor at that point because if it is PF, you don't want it to linger for weeks or months. It can make recovery very difficult, or you may eventually develop a heel spur.
posted by maudlin at 1:29 AM on January 13, 2014

I had something similar once and it was a plantar wart- it came on quite suddenly and I ended up freezing it off.
posted by misspony at 3:18 AM on January 13, 2014

I was diagnosed with PF by a podiatrist and my pain was/is NOT in the arch itself but rather towards the heel. The pain is worse upon first getting up in the AM and lessens as the morning wears on then increases towards the evening.

It might be beneficial to treat your pain as if you have PF and see if it goes away. Ice, ibuprofen, stretching and arch supports for your shoes. Wear supportive lace-up shoes from the moment you get out of bed. Also, I LOVE the toe-less compression socks for PF, I wear them all day and they really help with the pain.

Feel better!
posted by PorcineWithMe at 3:47 AM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I meant to say it would be beneficial so that when/if you DO see a doctor you can tell them that you've already tried the PF protocol for pain relief and it hasn't worked.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 5:28 AM on January 13, 2014

I used to wake up with screamingly sore heels when I had PF. Regular stretching cured it (especially calf stretching and the stepping-on-a-tennis-ball trick, lord does that feel good).

If stretching doesn't do the job, give it some rest and if it's still terrible, see a doc.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:49 AM on January 13, 2014

Coming in to say that heel pain (NOT arch pain) that is particularly bothersome on waking and after extended exercise and/or time on your feet is the hallmark symptom of plantar fasciitis. Over-the-counter orthotic inserts can be very helpful--you want something with a rigid support under the arch rather than something that is merely cushiony. I don't think there's any "one best" brand--different people have success with different brands. I've had $10 Dr. Scholls that helped, $10 Dr. Scholls that didn't help, more expensive inserts that helped and more expensive inserts that didn't make much of a difference.

And yes, wear supportive shoes (with a supportive arch, not necessarily soft or cushiony), all the time. Don't walk around the house barefoot until you get this under control!
posted by drlith at 6:43 AM on January 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

My PF came on quite suddenly, within the space of a couple of days. I wouldn't consider sudden-onset a rule out.

Many good suggestions here - I'd agree you might as well start treating it like PF now, see what happens, and then at least be able to tell your doctor you've been trying XYZ if you end up needing the doctor.

Don't wait too long to go in - you don't want it to turn chronic if you can avoid it.
posted by Stacey at 7:10 AM on January 13, 2014

yeah, sounds like PF, I can relate. Buy a good brace/split to sleep in, ice it (frozen water bottle works well) take pain meds (alleve worked well), stay off running for a bit, and wear shoes w/ good support (all the time -- no barefoot..)
posted by k5.user at 7:36 AM on January 13, 2014

My plantar fasciitis came on quickly (with the purchase of crummy Chinese Doc Martens) and stopped just as quickly (when I bought a pair of nice, soft Merrells). And by "quickly," I mean "about a week."

My pain went from the ball of my foot all the way back to the front of the heel, but I understand that it can present differently in different people.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:11 AM on January 13, 2014

For awhile I had very sore bottoms of my feet when I woke up in the mornings (to the point where it was hard to walk to the bathroom when i got out of bed). I don't know if it was PF, but it sure did hurt A LOT! I was pretty certaint it was because I was running 5-7 miles a day in Vibram Five Finger shoes. I began alternating walking and running and occasionally wearing another type of Merrel barefoot shoe and the pain cleared up on its own.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 10:18 AM on January 13, 2014

Expanded description:
1. The pain has been a gradual onset. Made worse by a certain pair of rubber boots and, unfortunately, my running shoes.

2. The heel hurts the worst in the morning when I first put weight on it. Also, if I have my feet propped up for a long time. Goes away with some walking/standing.

After reading your comments, I'm pretty sure it is plantar fasciitis and I'll try out some of the excellent advice for stretching, taping, and icing.
posted by Foam Pants at 5:22 PM on January 13, 2014

Follow up: I do believe the pain was plantar fasciitis. I discovered the best therapy was downhill skiing. Putting those boots on forced my ankle into a flexed position that really stretched the bottom of my foot. Obviously, not a solution for everyone but just one session of skiing made a positive change. Three months of skiing every weekend and the pain was completely gone.
posted by Foam Pants at 9:41 PM on July 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

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