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Plantar Fasciitis Overview

by Patty Weasler, RN August 23, 2019 0 Comments

If you suffer from pain in the heel of your foot, you’re not alone. You likely have a common condition known as plantar fasciitis. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons reports that two million people are treated for plantar fasciitis every year.

Despite its prevalence, plantar fasciitis can have serious consequences if left untreated—it can even lead to permanent pain and reduced mobility.

Thankfully, there are plenty of effective, simple options for preventing and treating plantar fasciitis. Keep reading to discover the causes of plantar fasciitis and its cures so you can tackle this painful foot condition.

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia, the ligament that supports the arch of the foot. (Fun fact: The suffix -itis always refers to inflammation!)

A healthy plantar fascia helps to absorb shock and support the arch of the foot. However, repeated strain and stress to the ligament causes tiny tears, which lead to pain and swelling.

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis causes include tension and stress to the plantar fascia.

There are several risk factors that can contribute to this tension and stress. The most common risk factors for the development of plantar fasciitis include:

  • Inappropriate Footwear
    This includes shoes that don’t provide adequate arch support, shoes that don’t fit properly, and worn-out shoes.
  • Age
    If you’re over 40, you’re more likely to get plantar fasciitis.
  • Other Foot Problems
    People with flat feet or high arches can eventually develop plantar fasciitis. Those with excessive pronation—when the feet roll inward while walking—are also at an increased risk because of undue pressure on the plantar fascia.
  • High-Impact Activities
    Although exercise is necessary for good overall health, putting too much stress on the heel and foot is bad for foot health. Examples of high-impact exercises that can contribute to plantar fasciitis include running, jumping, basketball, ballet, and aerobic dancing.
  • Tight Muscles
    Tight muscles in the feet and calves exacerbates plantar fasciitis. Remember to stretch before and after exercise to keep muscles loose and flexible.
  • Excess Weight
    If you’re carrying around a extra few pounds, you’re adding to the stress and strain on your feet.
  • Standing Too Long
    Teachers, factory workers, hair stylists, and restaurant staff are among those at high risk for developing plantar fasciitis, as they spend most of the day on their feet.

Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms

The following are common symptoms of plantar fasciitis. If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your doctor for a formal diagnosis and individualized treatment plan.

  • Pain in the foot
  • Stabbing pain near the heel
  • Pain that is worse upon waking but improves after taking a few steps
  • Stiffness in the foot, particularly in the morning
  • Pain that worsens as the day goes on
  • Increase in pain after climbing stairs
  • Increase in pain or tenderness after being on your feet for a while
  • Pain which is worse after exercise, but not during
  • Tenderness, which is specific or generalized
  • Swelling or inflammation

Diagnosing Plantar Fasciitis

Doctors typically diagnose plantar fasciitis with little trouble. During your visit, your doctor will take a full medical history, inquire about your symptoms, and ask about your family’s health history.

Your doctor will perform a physical examination of the foot, checking for areas of tenderness or swelling and for foot abnormalities that may be contributing to plantar fasciitis or other foot conditions. They may ask you to move your feet or ankles in certain ways to assess joint motion, muscle function, and tendon health.

Plantar fasciitis pictures, taken using X-rays or MRI scans, are usually unnecessary. In some cases, they may be used to rule out other issues, such as fractures or pinched nerves.




Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.

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