Plantar fasciitis is a common foot condition that affects nearly 2 million people per year. It occurs when the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue along the bottom of your foot, becomes inflamed. The plantar fascia connects the heel bone to your toes, and serves as a shock absorber when walking and running.
What are the Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is heel pain. Some people describe it as a sharp, stabbing pain, while others feel a burning sensation, stiffness, or dull ache. The pain tends to be worse in the morning when first standing up, after sitting for long periods of time, and during or after intense exercise like running.
How do I know if I have Plantar Fasciitis?
Because the plantar fascia helps support the arches in your feet, plantar fasciitis can be painful and disruptive to daily life. The plantar fascia endures a lot of wear and tear, and applying too much pressure can damage or tear the ligament. This is why plantar fasciitis is common among runners and people suffering with obesity.
The repetitive motion of running and hitting the pavement with each stride can irritate the plantar fascia. Not wearing proper fitting shoes, or wearing shoes with poor arch support can increase your risk of developing plantar fascia. People who are overweight or obese put increased pressure on their plantar fascia due to the excess weight they carry.
If you are experiencing heel pain that isn’t going away, a visit to your physician may be necessary. Your doctor should be able to tell if you have plantar fasciitis based on your symptoms and after conducting a physical exam, but they may order imaging testing if they suspect something else is causing your pain.
How is Plantar Fasciitis Treated?
Plantar fasciitis develops because of overuse. Allow yourself time to rest and recover if you are an avid runner, or if you work an active job that requires being on your feet most of the day. If the structure of your foot includes high arches or flat feet, be sure to wear inserts that will offer support. Maintaining a healthy weight is also important so as not to put added pressure onto the ligament.
Most cases of plantar fasciitis can be treated at home with rest, over-the-counter pain relievers, ice, wearing supportive shoes or inserts, and stretching techniques. If the pain does not subside, your physician may recommend immobilizing the foot with a walking boot or use an anti-inflammatory medication such as corticosteroids. Surgery is rare and only considered if you have exhausted all treatment options and still have not found any relief.
Outlook and Prevention
Plantar fasciitis will almost always improve with at home treatment. Depending on the severity of your plantar fasciitis, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to heal. If the pain continues or worsens, talk to your provider about other treatment options.
The best ways to avoid plantar fasciitis are stretching before exercising and resting after intense activity. If you are a long distance runner, replacing your shoes regularly (after 250 to 500 miles) can also help prevent it.
Plantar fasciitis can be painful and interfere with your daily routine. Our board-certified podiatrists offer comprehensive foot care with the most effective treatment options available. To schedule an appointment, call 716-995-7789.