Plantar fasciitis is a common source of heel pain. It is characterized by inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick tissue band that runs from the heel bone to your toes. Its primary job is to support the arch in your foot. Any tension can create small tears in the plantar fascia, which causes irritation and inflammation over time.
Plantar fasciitis can develop in anyone, but it is more common in runners due to the stress they put on the heel. You are also at an increased risk of developing plantar fasciitis if you are overweight, are flat footed or have a high arch, wear inadequate shoes, or are in an occupation where you are on your feet a lot. Adults between ages 40 and 60 years are also more likely to develop plantar fascia when compared to other age groups.
Plantar fasciitis will usually cause you to experience a stabbing pain felt with your first steps after getting up every morning. You might also experience pain that worsens when you move to standing from sitting, or when you are standing for long periods of time.
If you leave plantar fasciitis untreated, it can lead to chronic heel pain, as well as hip, back, and knee problems due to the way to change your walk in order to avoid pain over time. To diagnose plantar fasciitis, your orthopedic doctor will ask about your medical history and perform a physical examination. An imaging test, like an x-ray, might be performed in order to rule out other causes of pain.
Pain medications and steroid shots can be used to provide pain relief. Physical therapy can stretch the plantar fascia, and athletic tape can be used to support the bottom of the foot. Your doctor might also suggest night splints to support the arch while you sleep, or custom orthotics to redistribute pressure in your foot.
In rare cases of severe pain, and if no other treatment methods are effective, surgery may be performed to detach the plantar fascia.