FAQ’s on Plantar Fasciitis

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain found in our patients. Pain is caused by an inflammation of the thick tissue located on the bottom of the foot, which is called the plantar fascia. This tissue serves to connect the toes to the heel, creating a support structure for the arch of the foot.

Patients who have inflamed plantar fascia are likely to experience pain anytime pressure is placed on the foot, many times with every step they take. While the condition is most commonly found in middle-aged adults, it can occur in youths who are on their feet a lot.

What are the causes of Plantar Fasciitis?

The primary cause of plantar fasciitis is a tearing or straining of  the arch-supporting ligaments. Repeated tears or straining of these ligaments can cause pain and swelling for the patient. Common causes of ligament strain include having feet that roll inward during walking, having feet with exceptionally high arches, having flat feet, extensive periods of walking/standing/running on hard surfaces, or having tight Achilles tendons or calf muscles.

Patients who wear shoes that do not fit properly or support their feet well during periods of activity are at an increased risk of ligament damage. Plantar fasciitis can occur in both men and women, but occurs most frequently in active men between the ages of 40 and 70.

What are the symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?

The most common symptom found in patients with plantar fasciitis is pain and stiffness located on the bottom of the heel. Pain will likely occur most often during a patient’s first steps after remaining stationary for an extended period of time, such as after sleeping or sitting. Pain and stiffness may partially or fully recede after the first steps are taken, but can worsen throughout the day. For many people, pain is at its worst when climbing stairs or if the patient remains standing for an extended period of time.

Patients who are experiencing foot pain mostly at night may be experiencing an entirely different condition, such as arthritis or tarsal tunnel syndrome.

How is Plantar Fasciitis diagnosed?

Diagnosis is achieved by careful examination by our physician. Patients will be examined while walking, with careful attention paid to the feet during periods of standing and movement. Questions will be also be asked regarding the past health of the patient, including previous injuries that may have affected the feet. The current symptoms will be discussed, such as the specific locations of pain and the time of day when the foot hurts most. Types of activities, as well as the intensity of these activities will be noted.

Patients who may be suffering symptoms as the result of an internal injury to the foot, such as a fracture, will have appropriate X-rays.

What are the treatment options for Plantar Fasciitis?

There is not one single treatment method that is able to improve every aspect of plantar fasciitis in all patients, especially since this condition will vary on a patient to patient basis. Instead, treatment is achieved through a combination of methods tailored to what works best for the individual patient. Common methods include simply resting the feet, and reducing the activities that may produce symptoms.

Ice or heat may be applied to the foot to assist in the reduction of swelling. Patients are sometimes given medication to help reduce the pain and inflammation. Some patients may have to obtain a special shoe tailored to the unique requirements of their foot in order to give better support during movement.