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Understanding Plantar Fasciitis -- the Basics

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the thick, fibrous band of tissue (''fascia'') that reaches from the heel to the toes, supporting the muscles and arch of the foot. When the plantar fascia is overly stretched, tiny tears can occur in its surface, causing inflammation and pain. While some people have attributed this type of pain to bony growths called heel spurs, it's now believed that heel spurs are a result of rather than a cause of the pain from plantar fasciitis.

Plantar Fasciitis

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

A number of factors contribute to the condition. While men can get plantar fasciitis, it is more common in women. You're also more likely to suffer from this condition as you age or if you:

  • Are overweight
  • Take up a new form of exercise or suddenly increase the intensity of your exercise
  • Are on your feet for several hours each day
  • Tend to wear high-heeled shoes, and then switch abruptly to flat shoes
  • Wear shoes that are worn out, with weak arch supports and thin soles
  • Have flat feet or an unusually high arch
  • Have legs of uneven lengths or an abnormal walk or foot position
  • Have tight achilles tendons, or "heel cords"


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on March 10, 2014

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