Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the fibrous tissue, known as the plantar fascia, that connects your heel bone to the toes. The plantar fascia runs all the way down the middle of the bottom side of your foot. Plantar fasciitis is relatively common and is usually characterized by a sharp, stabbing pain felt on the bottom of your foot near the heel.
The sharp pain usually comes and goes throughout the day, and is more prominent in the morning after you wake up or after getting back on your feet after a period of inactivity. If you think you may have plantar fasciitis, you should see a podiatrist (foot doctor) for diagnosis and care.
Here are some quick facts about plantar fasciitis:
- Plantar fasciitis is preventable by using orthotic insoles and ergonomic shoes
- Plantar fasciitis is treatable using plantar fasciitis socks, arch supports, orthotic inserts, medical taping, medication and other methods (see below)
- Treatment does not typically require surgery or any advanced procedures
- It is the most common foot problem treated by podiatrists in the U.S. and U.K.
- Pain can range in severity from mild to acute
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
The most common cause of plantar fasciitis is excessive stress on your feet that results in an overload of tension on the plantar fascia. Unlike many other muscular injuries, plantar fasciitis is not an injury caused by a singular event, such as pulling or tearing a muscle, but rather a condition that develops over time while your foot is under heavy stress. Here are all of the common risk factors that can lead to plantar fasciitis:
- Any profession or activity that requires you to be on your feet frequently
- Sports—especially ones that require jumping
- Running—especially distance running
- Ballet and other frequent dancing
- Aerobic dance
- Age between 40 and 60
- Flat feet
- High arches
- Abnormal walking patterns
Have Sore or Aching Feet, but No Sharp Pain?
Remember—plantar fasciitis is characterized by a very sharp, needle-like pain at the bottom of your foot, close to (or at) your heel, where the heel meets the palm of the foot. If you are not experiencing sharp pain, it is unlikely you have plantar fasciitis. Rather, if you are suffering from general foot soreness, swelling, or mild to moderate “aches and pains” in your feet, then we highly recommend reading this article that we have prepared on ways to fix sore feet!
Plantar Fasciitis Treatment and Prevention:
Prevention. Taking deliberate preventative measures when you meet any of the risk factors above is the best way to take care of your feet and prevent plantar fasciitis as well as many other foot problems. Wearing orthotic insoles (also known as shoe inserts or orthotic inserts) such as these is the best way to provide extra support for your plantar fasciaand ultimately prevent plantar fasciitis.
We have a full guide on how orthotic insoles work (click here to view it), which we highly recommend reading to understand all the ways that orthotic insoles benefit your feet.
Treatment. If you have mild to moderate plantar fasciitis, you may be able to treat the condition with limited involvement from a physician. However, it is best to consult a podiatrist if you are experiencing sharp foot pain to determine the best plan of treatment.
Mild to moderate plantar fasciitis can be treated by wearing plantar fasciitis socks or wearing plantar fasciitis arch supports to provide constant support to the plantar fascia during recovery. It is also best to limit involvement in the risk-factor activities listed previously in this article. Additionally, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as Advil, Motrin, or Aleve (ibuprofen or naproxen) may be used to reduce pain and inflammation, since inflammation is the primary symptom of plantar fasciitis. Eliminating the inflammation will often eliminate the plantar fasciitis in mild to moderate cases.
For acute cases of plantar fasciitis, your physician may choose to use a prescription strength anti-inflammatory drug, steroids, advanced medical wrapping on your foot, in conjunction with some of the methods listed above.