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Expert Q&A

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Why do my feet hurt?

Asked by Cathy, North Carolina

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I have pain in my heels, and it hurts to do anything on my feet. I elevate them and try not to put any pressure on them as much as possible. Even when I sleep on my back and my feet are positioned my heels hurt. What should I do?

Expert Bio Picture

Living Well Expert Dr. Jennifer Shu Pediatrician,
Children's Medical Group

Expert answer

Thank you for your question. It sounds like you may have a condition called plantar fasciitis or basically an inflammation of the thick tissue (or "fascia") under the skin at the bottom of the foot. It can cause severe heel and foot pain and is more common in women, adults who are middle-aged or older, people who work on their feet all day, and runners.

There are many steps for dealing with plantar fasciitis:

Rest: Many people with plantar fasciitis do not feel pain while they are walking or running and may be tempted to continue their physical activity. However, overuse can make the pain worse, so cutting back on high-impact exercise and elevating the feet while resting can ultimately help.

Reduce inflammation: Taking an over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen may decrease the fasciitis. Applying ice to the sore areas may reduce the swelling as well.

Support: Consider wearing orthotics, and choose shoes that have shock-absorbing soles and plenty of support.

Stretch. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends various exercises to stretch the foot arches and heel cords.

Maintain a healthy weight: Having excess weight on the feet can add to the pain.

Get help: In instances of plantar fasciitis that do not respond to the usual home care, it may be necessary to get steroid injections in the feet or wear walking casts or nighttime splints. Finally, individuals may, on rare occasions, need to resort to surgery.

Please be sure to consult with your physician about the best ways to manage your condition. Good luck!

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