What is Plantar Fascitis?
Approximately 2 million individuals in the U.S. are treated for plantar fasciitis every year, which is the most common cause of pain on the bottom of the heel. This condition occurs when the strong band of tissue that supports the arch of the foot becomes irritated and inflamed.
The plantar fascia is a long, thin ligament that lies directly beneath the skin on the bottom of your foot; it connects the heel to the front of your foot and supports the arch of your foot. It’s designed to absorb the strains and stresses that are placed on the feet. However, at times, too much pressure tears or damages these tissues, and the body’s natural response is inflammation that results in the stiffness and heel pain of plantar fasciitis.
Who is Likely to Get Plantar Fascitis?
You are more likely to get plantar fasciitis if you are a long-distance runner or if you have a very active job that involves being on your feet regularly, such as a factory worker or a server in a restaurant. You are also at a higher risk of developing plantar fasciitis if you’re overweight or obese because of the increased pressure on your plantar fascia ligaments, especially if you have sudden weight gain. And you may be at increased risk of developing the condition if:
- You are pregnant, particularly during the latter stages of your pregnancy.
- You have very high arches.
- You have flat feet.
- You experience tight Achilles tendons, which are the tendons attaching your calf muscles to your heels.
- You wear shoes with soft soles and poor arch support.
- You experience tighter calf muscles that make it difficult to flex your foot and bring your toes up toward your shin.
- You’re undertaking new or increased physical activity.
Typically, active men and women between the ages of 40 and 70 years of age are at the highest risk for developing plantar fasciitis. It is also slightly more common in women than in men.
There are a few common symptoms that point to plantar fascitis. They include:
- A greater amount of pain after (not during) exercise or activity.
- Pain within the first few steps after getting out of bed in the morning, or after a long period of rest, such as after a long car ride. The pain typically subsides after a few minutes of walking.
- Pain on the bottom of the foot near the heel.
How is Plantar Fascitis Diagnosed?
When you visit your doctor, he or she will perform a physical exam to check for tenderness in the bottom of your foot, just in front of your heel bone, and also check for the exact location of your foot pain to make certain that it is not the result of a different type of a foot problem. Your doctor will then ask you to flex your foot while he pushes on the plantar fascia to see if the pain gets worse as you flex, and better as you point your toe. He will also look for these signs:
- A high arch
- Limited “up” motion of your ankle
- Mild redness or swelling in your foot
What are the Treatment Options for Plantar Fascitis?