What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the thick band of tissue (also called a fascia) at the bottom of your foot that runs from your heel to your toes.

Doctors once thought bony growths called heel spurs brought on the pain. Now they believe that heel spurs are the result -- not the cause -- of plantar fasciitis.

Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis causes pain in your heel. It’s usually worse when you take your first steps in the morning or after you’ve been sitting for a long time. It tends to feel better with activity but worsens again after you spend a long time on your feet.

Plantar Fasciitis Causes and Risk Factors

Your fascia supports the muscles and arch of your foot. When it’s overly stretched, you can get tiny tears in its surface. This can bring on pain and inflammation.

You’re at greater risk of plantar fasciitis if you:

  • Are female
  • Are 40 to 60 years old
  • Are obese
  • Have flat feet or high arches
  • Have tight Achilles tendons, or “heel cords”
  • Have an unusual walk or foot position
  • Often wear high-heeled shoes
  • Spend many hours standing each day
  • Wear worn-out shoes with thin soles

Diagnosing Plantar Fasciitis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and check your feet to see where you’re having pain. They sometimes want you to have imaging tests to make sure something else isn’t causing your problem. These tests include:

Plantar Fasciitis Treatment

Your treatments may include:

  • Icing the area.
  • Night splints. You wear these to stretch your calf and foot while you sleep.
  • Physical therapy. Certain exercises can stretch your fascia and Achilles tendon and strengthen your leg muscles, which will make your ankle and heel more stable.
  • Rest. Stop doing things that make the pain worse. This might include some types of exercise, like running or jumping.
  • Supportive shoes or inserts. Shoes with thick soles and extra cushioning will make it less painful for you to stand or walk. Arch supports can distribute pressure more evenly across your feet.
  • Taking pain-relieving non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium. You shouldn’t take these for more than a month, so talk with your doctor.

Once you begin treatment, you’ll usually see improvement within 10 months. If you aren’t better then, your doctor might try treatments like shots of cortisone, a type of steroid, to ease inflammation. In rare cases, you might need surgery.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on October 07, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Family Physicians.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: “Plantar Fasciitis and Bone Spurs.”

Mayo Clinic: “Plantar Fasciitis.”

American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society: “Plantar Fasciitis.”

UpToDate: “Plantar fasciitis.”

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