Plantar fasciitis: Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment
What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is thickening of the plantar fascia, a band of tissue running underneath the sole of the foot.
The thickening can be due to recent damage or injury, or can be because of an accumulation of smaller injuries over the years.
Plantar fasciitis can be painful.
What causes plantar fasciitis?
A number of factors can contribute to plantar fasciitis. While men can get plantar fasciitis, it is more common in women. You're also more likely to have this condition as you age. Common causes of plantar fasciitis include:
- Being overweight
- Taking up a new form of exercise or suddenly increasing the intensity of your exercise
- Standing on your feet for several hours each day
- Medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus SLE)
- Wearing high-heeled shoes, and switching abruptly to flat shoes
- Wearing shoes that are worn out with weak arch supports and thin soles
- Having flat feet or an unusually high arch
- Having legs of uneven lengths or an abnormal walk or foot position
- Having tight Achilles tendons, or 'heel cords'
What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?
The symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:
- Pain in the bottom of your foot, especially at the front or centre of the heel bone
- Pain that is worse when first rising in the morning (called "first-step pain"), when first standing up after any long period of sitting, or after increased levels of activity especially in non-supportive shoes
Seek medical advice about plantar fasciitis if:
You have heel pain or pain in the bottom of your foot, especially when you get up in the morning, that does not respond to treatment or if there is redness or bruising in the heel.
How do I know if I have plantar fasciitis?
Most cases of plantar fasciitis are diagnosed by a health care provider who listens carefully to your description of symptoms. During an examination of your feet, your health care provider will have to press on the bottom of your feet - the area most likely to be painful in plantar fasciitis.
Because the pain of plantar fasciitis has unique characteristics - pain upon rising, improvement after walking for several minutes, pain produced by pressure applied in a specific location on your foot but not with pressure in other areas - your health care provider will probably feel comfortable making the diagnosis based on your symptoms and a physical examination. Your health care provider may suggest that you have an X-ray of your foot to verify that there is no stress fracture causing your pain.