Whitesburg KY

Plantar fasciitis causes pain in heel



DEAR DR. DONOHUE: This is the second time I have had plantar fasciitis. The first time was more than five years ago. A doctor outlined a program for me, but I have forgotten the details. Will you give me a refresher course? — L.O.

ANSWER: “Plantar” is the sole of the feet. The plantar fascia is a band of sturdy tissue that runs from the heels to the toes. It supports the feet and the foot arches. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. Professional baseball, football and basketball players get it. People with flat feet or very high arches, overweight people, those who stand on hard surfaces for long periods and runners who suddenly increase their mileage or running time are the ones most likely to develop this injury. It happens to nonathletes, too.

It causes intense pain when an affected person gets out of bed in the morning and takes a few steps. During the day, the pain lessens, but it returns toward the end of the working day. The pain can be so severe that people are forced to take time off from work.

Other causes of heel pain include entrapment of a heel nerve in scar tissue, a loss of the fat pad that cushions the heel (found mostly in older people) and tiny fractures of the heel.

Weight loss is the answer to this problem if a person is overweight. Limit your walking, and don’t do any running. You can bike and swim to stay in shape. At night, splint the foot so the toes point to the ceiling when you lie on your back. If the foot falls downward toward the bed, it aggravates heel pain. Ice the heel four times a day for 15 minutes. A silicone heel insert often proves helpful. Make sure your shoes are wellcushioned. Loop a towel around the front of the foot and, while seated, pull the towel so the foot is drawn to the body. This stretches the fascia. If this program fails, then see a doctor.


DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My fingernails are an eyesore. Since I turned 83, they’ve turned ugly. They break easily. What can I use to put some strength back in them? — R.W.

ANSWER: Keep your nails out of water. If you have to put them in water, wear protective gloves. Cut the nails short. You can use nail polish, but go very easy on polish remover.

A reader, J. G., wrote to me after the last time I wrote about fragile nails to endorse a product called Hard as Hoof, available at Walmart stores and probably others.

©2013 North America Synd.

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