While your feet work in tandem to walk, run, and jump, they don’t always experience injury or trauma in the same way.
Suffering from heel pain or Plantar Fasciitis in just one foot is common. However, this unbalanced condition raises plenty of questions about why Plantar Fasciitis developed this way, and how to involve the unaffected foot in your treatment regimen.
Keep reading to learn what to do when you have heel pain in just one foot:
Why Plantar Fasciitis May Develop in Just One Foot
Plantar fasciitis may develop in just one foot under a variety of circumstances.
Injury or Trauma
Injury or trauma that affects just one foot (for instance, a car accident, sprain, or fall) is one of the more obvious reasons that Plantar Fasciitis may develop in one foot, since the arch and heel may be injured or damaged. However, just as often Plantar Fasciitis and heel pain develops in the uninjured foot, which may be forced to absorb greater impact and force to compensate for the injured foot. It’s also important to note that it’s also common for heel pain to develop without any sort of injury.
Surgery (Including Plantar Fasciitis Surgery!)
The healing period (usually around six weeks) following a broken bone (including bones in the leg) or foot surgery like a bunionectomy or plantar fascia release requires plenty of rest for the affected area. Like the previous scenario, this can place a great deal of additional strain on the healthy foot, particularly if there is already an abnormality in gait or arch height.
Subtle differences in arch height, foot structure, and muscle tightness can mean that your feet experience impact differently while you walk, run, or jump. Over time, the heavier wear and tear on one foot can lead to expedited arch trauma and breakdown in that foot.
Overlapping Foot Conditions
Bunions, hammer toe, cysts, or Morton’s Neuroma in one foot can lead to Plantar Fasciitis in either the affected or unaffected foot, depending on how this overlapping foot condition interacts with your gait and your arches’ ability to bear impact.
Special Considerations for Treating Heel Pain in One Foot
Most proven, tried-and-true conservative treatment methods for Plantar Fasciitis are geared toward both feet. However, with a few tweaks, these at-home treatments can be just as effective for one foot. The most important question to answer is whether both feet (or just the affected foot) should be treated:
Orthotics: Both Shoes or Just One?
Orthotic inserts should be worn in both shoes–not just one. Not only will wearing a complete set of orthotics avoid gait imbalances, but it will prevent another imbalance in strain and impact on your healthy foot from developing. Orthotics add an extra layer of cushioning, support, and targeted acupressure that is beneficial for all feet.
Night Splints: Both Feet or Just One?
There’s no need to use a night splint or Sock Splint for both feet–just the affected foot. Night splints head off morning pain by keeping the damaged plantar fascia ligament in a gentle, flexed stretch all night long to stimulate blood circulation and keep the ligament flexible.
Stretching and Massage: Both Feet or Just One?
Stretching is one of the best ways to improve the strength and flexibility of a damaged plantar fascia, as well as the surrounding muscles and ligaments that support the arch of the foot. It’s important to stretch both sets of heels, calves, and ankles to ensure that both feet and legs are at max capacity to resist injury and bear weight and impact.
Rest: Both Feet or Just One?
It’s important to give both feet regular rest periods, even if only one foot has symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis. Your natural inclination will be to favor the injured foot or rest it more frequently–which can lead to the development of symptoms in the healthy foot as it absorbs extra stress and impact. Take regular breaks from standing or walking to rest both feet and allow your body to heal and recover.
Whether you have Plantar Fasciitis in both feet or just one, the most important thing you can do is take your symptoms seriously and start a treatment regimen as soon as possible. With early intervention, a dedicated routine of proven home-healing techniques, and a little patience, most cases of Plantar Fasciitis can be resolved easily and successfully.