Plantar fasciitis is a common problem that causes pain under the heel bone often with lengthy walking and prolonged standing. It is most often seen in middle-aged men and women. The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that lies at the bottom of the foot. It runs from the heel bone to the toes and forms the arch of the foot. The plantar fascia functions as a shock absorber and also supports the arch of the foot.
Too much pressure over the foot may damage or tear away the plantar fascia tissue and can be a cause of heel pain. It is also possible that when the plantar fascia is overstretched or overused repeatedly, there can be irritation or inflammation of the fascia. Inflammation of the plantar fascia causes plantar fasciitis.
The risk factors that can make you more prone to develop plantar fasciitis include obesity, foot arch problems such as flat feet (pes planus) or high arch (pes cavus), activities such as long-distance running, ballet dancing, and dance aerobics, occupations that necessitate walking or standing on hard surfaces for long periods of time, and wearing shoes with poor arch support or thin soles.
The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is stabbing pain on the bottom of the foot near the heel. The pain develops gradually and may involve either one or both feet at the same time. Pain is usually worse in the morning and may be aggravated after standing for a long time.
Your doctor will examine your foot and will check for signs of flat feet or high arches, tenderness, swelling, and redness of the foot, and stiffness or tightness of the arch in the bottom of your foot. Your doctor may suggest X-rays or an MRI scan to rule out other causes of heel pain such as a stress fracture or pinched nerve.
Most patients with plantar fasciitis are effectively treated with the following measures:
Preventive measures such as stretching, exercise programs, and footwear modification can help prevent plantar fasciitis. But if it occurs, proper treatment is essential or plantar fasciitis can become a long-term problem.