LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — After 12-hour shifts at a nursing home, Toni Gaddie noticed sharp pains under her heels, especially in the morning and after working out.

"After the gym, it was like weight-bearing was just horrible," Gaddie said.

Fellow nurses recognized the symptoms and recommended she see Naval Patel, a podiatrist at CHI St. Vincent.

"We did a couple of x-rays, examined her and found out she had plantar fasciitis," Patel said.

The plantar fascia is a thick web-like ligament connecting the heel to the front of the foot. Small tears can develop as stress builds up over time. Without time to heal, the tears compound until sharp pain accompanies any stress on the ligament.

"Your body is like a car, your feet are like the tires,"  Patel said. "If the tires aren't working right, your body isn't moving as quickly."

The two went through many treatment options, from icing, injections, stretching and custom orthotics. Those seemed to work but only temporarily.

The next option was surgery, which gave Gaddie pause. But it proved to be a great decision.

She's back to working out. She stretches and uses custom orthotics.

"The main thing that I have learned from this experience is, wear proper shoes," Gaddie said.

Patel has some advice on how often to switch out footwear.

"What I recommend is changing your shoes out annually," Patel said.

Her quality of life has improved dramatically since the surgery.

"I was able to go back start working out, going back to the gym, wearin' my high heels," Gaddie said.