More and more jobs in the U.S. require their employees to stand on their feet all day. Teachers, retail workers, healthcare workers, mail carriers, factory workers, athletes, and hairdressers, just to name a few, all have to stand all day on their feet often on hard, concrete floors. Hard, non-supportive steel-toed shoes are often worn contributing to foot discomfort. Overuse, non-supportive shoes, and hard floors in combination with existing foot conditions such as flatfeet or high arched feet is a recipe for developing a condition called plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis or more commonly known as heel pain syndrome, caused by this overuse, is a very common condition. The plantar fascia is a ligament that goes from the heel to the ball of the foot. It is like a tight rubber band that is the tightest in the inside of the arch. It tightens and contracts while sleeping or sitting when not putting any pressure on the foot, but as soon as you get up in the morning or after periods of rest it pulls after the arch goes down and the foot lengthens.
This pulling causes a lot of swelling, inflammation and pain. The more it pulls the body responds to the pulling of the ligament on the bone by making new bone called a heel spur. The heel spur is not the problem as most people think. Rather the tight, inflamed ligament (plantar fascia) is the cause of the pain and the spur is just a side-effect of the ligament being tight.
The prognosis is excellent with the proper treatment. Luckily this condition very rarely requires surgery. Most patients improve with conservative treatment and this consists of cortisone injection, padding, physical therapy, customized orthotics (inserts), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, strapping and long-term stretching.
Prevention is key so if you work standing all day on your feet - consider getting a pair of functional orthotics (inserts), comfortable shoes and start stretching.