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Interview with Dr. Cunha: Why might people be experiencing Plantar Fasciitis while working from home

What is plantar fasciitis, and why might people be experiencing it right now when they're working from home?

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. The plantar fascia is a shock-absorbing bowstring like thick ligament that connects your heel to toes. When you stand your arch collapses causing this bowstring to stretch out leading to the formation of micro tears in the ligament that can result in weakness, swelling, and irritation of the plantar fascia.


The most common sign of plantar fasciitis is stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot when you get out of bed in the morning, after standing for prolonged periods of time, or when you stand up after sitting for a while. It’s also common to experience pain after you exercise, not during your workout.


There are two reasons people will start to experience this now:


1) Because they are walking barefoot at home. Walking barefoot on hard surfaces allows our foot to collapse which can lead to a tremendous amount of stress not only to the foot but to the rest of the body. Our feet naturally pronate during the gait cycle, however when we walk barefoot we pronate for a longer period of time which then alters the biomechanics and distribution of pressure and weight across the foot.


2) Because they are doing at-home workouts in inappropriate footwear. Whether they are creating their at-home workout, doing barefoot exercises while working out to their gym’s Instagram videos or going just a little too hard on the weekends, it’s important to mimic the routine you normally had pre-quarantine AND wear the appropriate foot gear. Barefoot exercises are almost worse than walking barefoot as you’re putting more strain on your plantar fascia.



What are some of the most effective ways to treat PF on your own?

For those treating foot pain at home, my go to method is to freeze a water bottle while it’s laying down. Then proceed to roll your foot on the frozen water bottle for about 20 minutes, 3 times daily.


You can also apply a topical or oral anti-inflammatory. I suggest taking an ibuprofen to help deal with the pain.


It’s important to also do stretches at home. You can either put your toes on the wall while your foot remains on the floor. You can also sit down with your legs in front of you and pull back your toes. Repeat these exercises three times daily and frequently ice the tender area.


When should someone seek professional assistance for Plantar Fasciitis?

If these at home treatments do not ease the pain after one week, I would suggest you visit a podiatrist to discuss custom orthotics, physical therapy or cortisone injections. If these treatments do not improve your condition, your doctor may recommend minimally invasive surgery for plantar fasciitis like Shock Wave Therapy. This is a highly effective at fully resolving chronic foot pain with a faster recovery time enabling patient to get back to work and being active.



Dr. Miguel Cunha Dr. Miguel Cunha, founder of Gotham Footcare and a leading podiatrist in Manhattan, is a highly trained and skilled foot and ankle surgeon with experience treating a wide array of foot and ankle conditions from minor problems to complex reconstructive foot and ankle surgery. Dr. Cunha takes pride in having a genuine interest in each and every one of his patients while providing them the utmost compassion and exceptional care.

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