Plantar Fasciitis Information - Treatment, Causes, & Symptoms

Learn How to Treat and Prevent Plantar Fasciitis Heel Pain

Plantar fasciitis is a foot condition that occurs when the plantar fascia gets injured as a result of a sudden increase in strain and tension. In its early stages plantar fasciitis is relatively easily treated by switching to supportive shoes that protect the plantar fascia from further strain, gently stretching and massaging the injured tissue, and using a plantar fasciitis splint to prevent further damage from occurring when you wake from sleep.

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Causes of Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a common injury among athletes. If a person begins a new exercise program or increases the intensity of their existing fitness routine they are likely to contract plantar fasciitis. This is particularly true if the athlete forgets to stretch prior to exercise or doesn't wear properly supportive athletic footwear.

Plantar fasciitis can also occur as a result of a sudden change in the stresses a person's feet face on a daily basis. The feet of the employee beginning a new job in an environment with harder floors; the homeowner moving from a one story into a two story house; and the pregnant woman gaining weight as her due date draws nearer are all going through a transitional period where the pressure placed on the feet has greatly increased in a relatively short period of time.

While plantar fasciitis is often the result of a sudden change in routine, it can also occur as a result of repetitive stress placed on the feet over time. Biomechanical abnormalities in foot structure can place a lot of extra stress on the plantar fasciitis. Often orthotics and arch supporting inserts are an important component in plantar fasciitis treatment and prevention because they ensure that your weight is properly distributed across your foot. Plantar fasciitis that is not the result of an athletic injury tends to be most common in adults age 40 to 65. Certain groups of people also have a higher risk of developing plantar fasciitis.

People who suffer from an elevated risk of developing plantar fasciitis include:
  • Those with flatfeet or fallen arches
  • Runners with high arches
  • Workers on their feet all day (waiters, nurses, factory workers, etc.)
  • Those who are overweight
  • People with a naturally tight Achilles tendon (calf muscle)
  • People who wear shoes with stiff soles and poor arch support

The Plantar Fascia

The plantar fascia is a ligament (bundle of connective tissue) that stretches from the base of the toe to the heel. The purpose of the plantar fascia is to prevent your foot's arch from collapsing under the dual pressure of the downward force of your body weight and the upward force of the ground resisting the impact of your foot. It also controls the foot's pronation and suppination during the walking. Another function of the plantar fascia is to shield the plantar muscles, located just beneath it, from damage and injury. The plantar fascia is a resilient and flexible ligament, but there are limits to the amount of strain and tension it can withstand. When the tissue is stretched beyond the limits either gradually overtime or as a result of a sudden change in activity, the plantar fascia can develop microtears. This tissue damage, when aggravated by a sudden change in pressure such as standing up in the morning after 8 hours of not having to bear weight, can cause the plantar fascia to become painful and inflamed.

Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms

  • Sharp, sudden heel pain when you get out of bed in the morning
  • Heel pain after a period of rest such as when you first stand after sitting at your desk for a long period of time
  • Heel pain that occurs after, but not during exercise
  • Heel pain after climbing the stairs or standing on tiptoe
  • Calf muscle tightness
  • Mild heel swelling
  • The presence of heel spurs

About Heel Spurs:
Heel spurs are only rarely a contributing factor to plantar fasciitis pain. Heel spurs are; however, frequently present in people who have plantar fasciitis. This is because heel inflammation can trigger the growth of a heel spur as the body attempts to compensate for a foot structure imbalance.

If You Have Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms Seek a Podiatrist's Diagnosis!

Although plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain in adults (heel pain in children is usually caused by Sever's disease) there are many other possible causes of heel pain including Achilles tendonitis, tarsel tunnel syndrome, heel bursitis, or even a stress fracture. For the greatest chance of a successful recovery it is important to obtain an official diagnosis from a podiatrist that the underlying cause of your heel pain is truly plantar fasciitis.

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