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Plantar Fasciitis

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What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is an overuse injury that causes heel pain.

The plantar fascia is a band of fibrous tissue that:

  • Runs along the bottom of the foot from the heel to the ball of the foot.
  • Supports and protects the arch of your foot.

Causes of plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis occurs when you strain the ligament and cause tiny tears.

Causes of this injury can include:

  • Poorly fitting shoes or shoes without proper support.
  • Improper training techniques.
  • High arches or flat feet.
  • Running or standing on hard surfaces for long periods.

Plantar fasciitis prevention

Wearing shoes that fit well is one of the best ways to prevent plantar fasciitis.

You can also wear orthotics to support your feet if the shape of your foot is causing the trouble.

Sometimes tight calf muscles or Achilles' tendons can worsen the problem and cause complications. So, be sure to stretch before and after activity.

Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms and Diagnosis

Plantar fasciitis symptoms

Most people with plantar fasciitis feel symptoms such as pain in their heel. It feels like a dull, aching pain that can sometimes become sharp or stabbing.

Pain often occurs when first getting out of bed, or when standing after sitting for a long time. It may get better after you walk a little, but worsen later in the day.

You may also have tenderness in the heel.

Diagnosing plantar fasciitis

To diagnose plantar fasciitis, your doctor will do a physical exam to inspect your feet and see how you stand and walk.

He or she will ask about your:

  • Medical history
  • Symptoms
  • Physical activity.

You won't need x-rays or other imaging tests unless your doctor suspects you have a bone problem, such as a stress fracture.

Plantar Fasciitis Treatment

Nonsurgical plantar fasciitis treatment

When you first have pain, treatment and care for plantar fasciitis involve staying off your feet and resting your heel.

Other plantar fasciitis treatments include:

  • Applying ice packs to your heel to lessen pain and swelling.
  • Taking anti-inflammatory drugs to help manage pain and swelling.
  • Wearing orthotics or heel pads, or taping your foot to provide extra support to the ligaments ifor further relief.

Rehabilitation for plantar fasciitis

You may need physical therapy to strengthen the muscles of your feet and legs and to improve flexibility.

Exercises focus on:

  • Stretching the plantar fascia.
  • Stretching the calf muscle.
  • Strengthening the muscles around the foot and ankle joint.

If physical therapy and rehab don't help manage your plantar fasciitis, your doctor may suggest a cortisone shot.

Plantar fasciitis surgery

Only a small number of people will need surgery to correct plantar fasciitis. Your doctor will likely try nonsurgical treatments or rehab for six months or more before thinking about surgery.

The main types of plantar fasciitis surgery include:

  • Plantar fascia release — surgeons remove or release the damaged part of the plantar fascia ligament that's causing pain.
  • Heel spur removal — surgeons often combine this treatment with plantar fascia release to relieve long-term heel pain.

Recovering from overuse injuries takes time. Be sure to take care of your feet when they become irritated to avoid prolonged pain and injury.