What causes heel pain and plantar fasciitis?

What are some of the risk factors or causes that can lead to Plantar Fasciitis?

foot bone and tendon image

The cause of heel pain, or plantar fasciitis, is multi-factoral and actually poorly understood, but here are some risk factors that have been proven to contribute to the cause heel pain and plantar fasciits:

1.  Decreased ankle range of motion.  A decrease in ankle dorsiflexion has been shown to be a high risk factor for plantar fasciits.  This can be caused by dysfunction at the ankle joint or due to calf muscle tightness.  Many people are lacking the amount of range of motion(ROM)  needed.  The picture below shows an example of normal ROM

Example of normal ROM

2.  Obesity and being overweight.  Increased body weight is a well established risk factor for plantar fasciitis because the increase weight causes and increase in stress to the plantar fascia.

3.  Work related prolonged standing.  Individuals who spend prolonged period of standing, walking, and work related weight bearing on their feet have an increased risk for plantar fasciitis.

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4.  Training errors.  Overtraining, plyometrics, too rapid increase in distance, increase in intensity all can lead to the onset of plantar fasciitis.
There are many risk factors that many people believe to be the cause of plantar fasciitis but the presence of these factors to not always lead to the development of heel pain and plantar fasciitis.  Some of these factors are:
1.  Having flat feet or a high arch.  The research on this is not always consistent.  The risk of developing plantar fasciitis may increase with having a high arch or flat feet.  This is not always the cause though and this means that just because you may have flat feet does mean you will get plantar fasciitis.  Below is a picture of flat (hyperpronated) foot.  You can see how the arch is collapsed against the floor.

Image of a collapsed arch on a foot

2.  Having a bone spur.  The presence of a heel spur is common is people without heel pain, and again, just because you have a bone spur on an x-ray does not mean that you will get heel pain or plantar fasciitis.  Bone spurs have found to be more common in older individuals, people with osteoarthritis, and those who are overweight.

x-ray depicting large heel spur

Summary:

By understanding these risk factors you may be able to prevent heel pain or plantar fasciitis from occurring or at least understand what factors have led you to experience your heel pain.  Remember just because you may have one of these factors doesn’t mean you have to get plantar fasciitis.   If you are experiencing heel pain or plantar fasciitis symptoms contact Pursuit Physical Therapy now at 407 – 494-8835 or schedule below for a FREE CONSULTATION and get out of pain today!

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Here is an example of what one of our patients said who was experiencing plantar fasciitis:

“Great physical therapist, I’ve tried EVERYTHING for my plantar fasciitis and gotten numerous injections, but Ron was the first doctor to actually look at my foot and asses the actual cause and show me how to fix it rather than just tell me to stop running and have it come back again!  I would definitely recommend him to anyone with any kind of sports injury!  He’s great, PLEASE go see him!!!! He will be worth your time.  Best doctor I’ve seen hands down!  My foot is so much better! I’m running virtually pain free for the first time in 6 months.”

-Kerry G.

Get out of pain today with our proven Heel pain and Plantar Fasciitis Program!
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