Plantar Fasciitis in pregnant mums: What you need to know about this common feet pain
Read all about the causes, symptoms and remedies/treatment for Plantar Fasciitis in pregnant mums, a condition which affects the feet.
Firstly, congratulations on your pregnancy and as Maggie Scarf puts it, "Pregnancy is getting company inside one's skin." Over the years and as you have most likely experienced, pregnancy has been known to bring about many changes in a woman's body. Unfortunately, some of these changes cause pain and discomfort with the most changes affecting your feet. Plantar Fasciitis, for instance, is one of such common effects.
When plantar fascia, the chunky loop of connective tissue that extends from your heel to your toes beneath your foot swells or gets irritated, it brings on Plantar Fasciitis. Do you feel increasing pain when climbing the stairs? Or when you stand for extensive periods or on your toes? Chances are you have Plantar Fasciitis.
To a certain extent, Plantar Fasciitis is more frequent in women as compared to men and more so in pregnant women. Want to know more? Well, this article will give you detailed information on the condition ranging from causes, symptoms and remedies/treatments in order to assist you in getting rid of the problem and restoring your well-being.
The main causes of Plantar Fasciitis in pregnant women are:
a) Loosening and softening of ligaments caused by Relaxin
When you get pregnant, there is a hormone known as relaxin that is released from your placenta, your uterus lining and the membranes surrounding the foetus. Its levels are usually at their highest during the first three months in order to help implant the developing foetus into your uterus's wall and increase placenta growth.
Throughout your pregnancy, relaxin takes care of you as well through controlling the changes in cardiovascular output, renal system and arterial functioning in your body. It is however during the third trimester that relaxin softens and relaxes the ligaments on all sides of your hips and pelvis to enhance flexibility.
Much as this will ease labor when the time comes, it gets a bit tricky because it softens your other body ligaments like those of the knees and feet hence reducing your stability, meaning chances of falls and slips increase; and also weakens your foot arch muscles, making the Plantar Fascia more susceptible to injury.
b) Increased weight
So you have added a few pounds and probably feel alien to your own body. The increase in weight is of course necessary for you and your baby's health. However, it is also another major cause of Plantar Fasciitis in pregnant women.
A study done found that pregnant women in their last two trimesters had higher forefront pressure while standing and walking than overweight women. This increased pressure coupled with loose ligaments strains the Plantar Fascia causing it to swell and tear which is what podiatrists refer to as Plantar Fasciitis.
Commonly referred to as flat feet, overpronation is when the arches of your feet flatten significantly due to the increased weight and also changes your gait as feet roll inwards while you walk. Podiatrists confirm overpronation as very common in pregnant women and assess that it causes Plantar Fasciitis by extremely stressing and inflaming the Plantar Fascia making it difficult and painful to walk.
Most reported symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis include:
- Stabbing pain and stiffness beneath your heel which sometimes occur in your mid-foot area.
- Pain when taking your first steps after a period of inactivity like sleeping, sitting or driving for long hours. These pains normally ease after walking for a few minutes.
- Pain from applying pressure on certain parts of your foot and zero pain on applying equal pressure on other parts.
- Crippling or great pain after prolonged exercising, standing, walking or other activity.
The treatment methods can be divided into these three sections:
a) Home treatment/DIY remedies
On starting easy home treatment methods more than 90% of people with Plantar Fasciitis get better in less than 10 months. Among the basic do-it-yourself treatments you should try are:
- Take plenty of rest by avoiding any activities that worsen the pain or causes a great impact on your feet like running. As you lie down podiatrists suggest you raise your legs at least 6 inches above your heart for 15 minutes in order to improve blood flow.
- You could also ice your feet daily for about 20 minutes 3 to 4 times either by using an ice pack, ice block or rolling your feet over a cold water bottle. Ensure to consult your obstetrician before using ice.
- Some simple calf and Plantar Fascia stretches 3 to 5 times daily will elongate your heel cord since Plantar Fasciitis is heightened by tight muscles in your feet.
- Focus on buying shoes and slippers that offer arch support and efficient cushioning. This will prevent tiny tears in tissue cells caused by the pressure felt on your heels as you move. Heel pads also provide cushioning.
- Use a night splint to hinder the Plantar Fascia from shortening while you sleep and effectively stop the pain.
b) Non-surgical treatment
- Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen, paracetamol will relieve pain and reduce swelling. If you experience stomach pains see your doctor for an alternative prescription.
- A steroid injection notably cortisone which is an anti-inflammatory medication will ease your pain by reducing the swelling. Multiple uses could, however, rupture the plantar fascia or shrink your heel's fat pad elevating your pain.
- Extracorporeal shock wave treatment to try and stimulate the healing process of the damaged tissues. ECWT does not involve a surgical incision and is often tried before considering surgery.
c) Surgical treatment
You should only consider surgery if after 6 months plus of persistent non-surgical treatment fails and pain is restricting your day to day activities. The two surgeries that can be done are:
- Gastrocnemius recession surgery is done to lengthen your calf muscles and to increase the ankle's motion. It is, therefore, appropriate only if you have trouble moving your feet despite months of doing calf stretches. It can be performed with an open incision or an endoscope. Though not common, it could lead to nerve damage.
- Plantar Fascia release is whereby your Plantar Fascia ligament is partially cut to ease tension and remove large bone spur if noticed. It is recommended if you have normal ankle flexibility but continued pain. Postoperative problems include incomplete pain relief or nerve damage.
Dear mums to be, I know all this might sound exhausting but you want and need to be healthy when your little bundle of joy comes because he/she will keep you up and about and you wouldn't want your feet to be in pain, immobile or have discomforts then. Remember Plantar Fasciitis does not end on its own after childbirth so take care of your feet now that you have the time to avoid inconveniences from the condition when your baby comes.
Hopefully, the information we have equipped you with, will give you guidelines on how to start this healing process and have your feet Plantar Fasciitis free in no time. We would love to hear from you, so leave us your feedback in the comments section and share this article if you enjoyed reading it, so other mums-to-be like yourself can get enlightened. We wish you all the best in your motherhood journey.