Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation in the tissue that connects the heel to the toes. This tissue is a ligament called the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia supports the arch of the foot and is integral to standing and walking. Development of plantar fasciitis can make walking, running, or even just standing painful and difficult.
Plantar Fasciitis Causes
Plantar fasciitis can affect both feet or just one foot. Plantar fasciitis develops when the ligament is overstrained and develops small tears. These tears are painful, and may cause the ligament to swell, putting pressure on the foot.
Plantar Fasciitis Risk Factors
Most people that develop plantar fasciitis are middle aged, as repetitive strain can bring about the condition. However, jobs that require intense strain on the plantar fascia may cause the condition to develop in younger patients. Professional athletes, service industry workers, and soldiers are at high risk for plantar fasciitis.
Other risk factors that put patients at a higher risk for developing plantar fasciitis include:
- Being overweight
- Having flat feet or high arches
- Being between the age of 40 and 60
- Doing exercises that put excess strain on the arch of the foot, such as ballet
- Wearing improperly fitting shoes
- Wearing shoes with poor arch support
Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms
Sharp pain in the bottom of the heel of the foot is the most common symptom of plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis stiffness and pain is often felt when the patient takes the first steps in the morning, but may worsen as strain is put on the foot and as the day persists. Plantar fasciitis pain may also increase immediately after running, climbing stairs, or exercising the foot or legs. Pain in the foot that does not match these symptoms may be indicative of other conditions.
Treating Plantar Fasciitis
If a patient has been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, resting the feet can allow the body to heal. Patients should cut back on activities that put any extra strain on the feet. Ice packs and over the counter pain relievers may help to ease pain sensations. Doing low-impact exercises such as calf stretches may help to gently rehabilitate the feet. Shoes with good arch support may help to prevent further injury, and may relieve some symptoms of plantar fasciitis.
Medication and Surgery
In cases where plantar fasciitis does not respond to other treatment, physicians may prescribe injections of medications directly into the heel. In many cases, medication is coupled with a recommendation for nighttime splints. If plantar fasciitis does not respond to these forms of treatment, surgery may be necessary.
“Plantar Fasciitis.” Medline Plus. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 26 Feb 2014. Web. 12 Mar 2014. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007021.htm>.
“Plantar Fasciitis.” PubMed. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 01 Mar 2012. Web. 12 Mar 2014. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0004438/>.