Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

One of the most common causes of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is inflammation and pain of a thick band of tissue known as the plantar fascia. It connects your heel bone to your toes and runs across the bottom of your foot.

Those with plantar fasciitis experience a stabbing pain that typically occurs during the first steps of the day. Once their foot becomes limber, pain usually minimizes but may return after they get up from sitting or after long periods of standing. This condition is widely seen in runners, individuals who are obese, or those who wear shoes that do not provide sufficient support.

What are the Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?

Heel pain when you get out of bed in the morning and take your first steps or heel pain after sitting or standing for a long period of time are classic symptoms of plantar fasciitis.

You may also experience pain that worsens when you stand on your toes or climb stairs. Heel pain at the start of exercise that gets better or even diminishes throughout the exercise program but returns when you are finished exercising is a plantar fasciitis symptom as well. 

Since conditions such as tarsal tunnel syndrome or arthritis have similar symptoms, plantar fasciitis may be mistaken for one of these other conditions.

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

Normally, your plantar fascia serves a bowstring that absorbs shock and supports the arch in your foot. Too much tension to the bowstring can lead to small tears in the fascia. Tearing and stretching repeatedly can inflame or irritate the fascia and cause pain.

If you are overweight or obese, you are at a higher risk for developing plantar fasciitis because of the increased pressure on your plantar fascia ligaments. Running long distances or working a job that requires you to be on your feet often can also make you more susceptible to plantar fasciitis. This condition is also more common in individuals between the ages of forty and sixty and those with flat feet or high arches.

How is Plantar Fasciitis Treated?

Plantar fasciitis can be relieved in only a few months with the proper conservative treatments. Medications, therapies, and some surgical procedures may help your plantar fasciitis fade away.

  • Medications.  To lessen the pain that comes with plantar fasciitis, pain relievers such as Aleve and ibuprofen can help.
  • Therapy.  Performing exercises to stretch out the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia can strengthen the lower leg muscles and add stability to your heel and ankle. Night splints to stretch your calf and the arch of your foot while you sleep and prescription cushions or heel cups may also help alleviate plantar fasciitis.
  • Surgery.  When other treatments do not work and the heel pain is incredibly severe, surgery to separate the heel bone from the plantar fascia may be an option. A doctor may also inject a steroid medication to temporarily provide some relief.

Maintaining a healthy weight, icing the area that hurts, wearing shoes with proper cushion and support, and stretching your plantar fascia, calf muscles, and Achilles tendon through simple at-home exercise can also reduce the pain of plantar fasciitis and prevent it from occurring.

If you’re searching for support for your plantar fasciitis or are unsure if this condition applies to you, the board-certified spine and pain experts at EmergeOrtho: Foothills Region in the Unifour area can help. Here are a few of the many reasons we stand out from other spine and pain experts:

  • Unlike most plantar fasciitis treatment facilities, EmergeOrtho: Foothills Region does not require an MRI.
  • All of our surgeries are conducted at 4 convenient hospitals: Frye Regional Medical Center in Hickory, Catawba Valley Medical Center in Hickory, Caldwell UNC Healthcare in Lenoir, Carolinas Healthcare System Blue Ridge in Morganton
  • We offer world-class care close to home.