Many people experience heel pain or plantar fasciitis at some point in their life. Perhaps this is you and you've wondered, "did I inherit this problem"?
The answer is, maybe.
While there is no gene for plantar fasciitis and the condition itself is not inherited, your foot type and other body mechanics can be. And these can put you at risk for getting it.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is the most common type of heel pain. It develops when enough force is placed on the plantar fascia which runs along the bottom of the foot. Experience pain in the heel of your foot when you first get up in the morning? You most likely have this condition.
Hereditary Factors in Developing Plantar Fasciitis
People with flat feet or very low arches are most at risk for this condition. That’s because people with flat feet tend to roll their feet in, causing the plantar fascia to overstretch. When this foot structure stretches too much, small tears occur at the bottom of the heel. This results in inflammation and pain.
People with high arches are also more prone to developing plantar fasciitis.
Equinus or Tight Calf Muscles
Equinus or tight calf muscles can also be inherited. It is also a common factor in developing plantar fasciitis. People with tight calf muscles end up altering the way they move to offset their limited ankle motion. Most often this leads to an arch that flattens which puts stress on the plantar fascia. A shortened or tight calf muscle can also develop from wearing high heels.
This means even a person with a neutral foot type can develop plantar fasciitis if they also have tight calf muscles.
Overweight and Obesity
You can inherit the tendency to take on extra weight. People who are overweight are more at risk for developing plantar fasciitis. For every extra pound of weight more stress is placed on your feet and plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is the ligament that gets strained with heel pain.
Other Risk Factors for Developing Plantar Fasciitis
Other risk factors for developing this painful problem include:
- Runners and other athletes – people who are involved in high impact sports also place a lot of stress of the plantar fascia.
- Pregnancy – due to rapid weight gain
- Improper footwear – wearing unstable shoes
Treatment of Genetic Factors in North Seattle
Fortunately both flat feet and tight calf muscles can be treated.
Flat feet are often discovered in early childhood around age five or six. Before then flat feet are considered normal. Even young children can be treated with orthotics to correct the way they walk and prevent pain from developing.
While over-the-counter orthotics can sometimes help with mild plantar fasciitis, most commonly patients will need to be cast for custom orthotics. The latter type of orthotics will more fully correct faulty foot mechanics.
Tight calf muscles are treated by taking on a fairly aggressive stretching program. While many providers suggest wall stretches, our office provides an Achilles splint that can be used during the day for stretches lasting 30 minutes. The latter type of stretching program is much more effective in easing tight calf muscles. Learn more about how to resolve calf tightness here!
Treatment of Other Factors in Plantar Fasciitis
We must bring down the inflammation to effectively your heal plantar fasciitis. During your first two visits we will use an airheel, taping, and if necessary cortisone. Follow-up visits may also include MLS Laser Therapy, a revolutionary treatment for pain and inflammation. It can be very effective for treating stubborn heel pain.
Buying Stable Shoes
Buying stable shoes is another key component to effective plantar fasciitis treatment. We recommend buying shoes from a shoe store with well trained staff such as Nordstom, Sole Perfection, REI, or a running store if you participate in that sport. Check out our blog, "How to Choose Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis".
If you're an athlete it's important to buy shoes designed specifically for that sport.
To get relief from plantar fasciitis, call our office at 206-368-7000 or request an appointment today.