Plantar fasciitis is a disorder that is caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is a thick ring of tissue located on the bottom of the foot and responsible for connecting the heel to the toes and supporting the arch. Caused by repetitive overstretching or excessive tension, the plantar fascia becomes irritated and inflamed as small tears in the tissue develop. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain.
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include a stabbing pain in the bottom of the foot near the heel that develops gradually. The pain is the worst with the first few steps out of bed; however, long periods of standing or getting up from a seated position may also act as triggers. Plantar fasciitis may affect one or both feet. It is commonly found in runners and other athletes because of the continuous stress placed on the heel, poor foot structure (being flat-footed), people who wear unsupportive shoes, and people who are overweight, as the increased load stresses the fascia. Additionally, those in occupations that require weightbearing for prolonged periods are at increased for developing this condition.
Diagnosis involves a physical exam and an oral history- x-rays are only used in order to rule out fractures. Treatment options for plantar fasciitis includes rest, ice, anti-inflammatory or corticosteroid medications, custom orthotics, extracorporeal shock wave therapy, and physical therapy. Surgery may be required to relieve tension on the plantar fascia if other conservative treatment options are not effective or if severe pain is present.