What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis (also known as heel spur syndrome) is the term given to heel and arch pain due to inflammation on the bottom of the foot. More specifically, it refers to an inflammation of the connective tissue (plantar fascia) that stretches from the base of the toes and across the arch of the foot, to the point where it inserts into the heel bone.

Plantar fasciitis typically causes a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot. The tenderness is usually toward the heel, but the entire sole of the foot can be affected. A sign of abnormal tension or tightness that can lead to plantar fasciitis is a bony prominence (heel spur) that develops where the inflamed plantar fascia and deep muscles attach to the heel bone. However, the heel spur is not the cause of your pain and does not need to be removed. It is the result of your body trying to lengthen the attachment of your muscles to the heel bone.

The pain is usually the worst with the first few steps after waking up, although it can also be triggered by long periods of standing or rising from sitting. The pain is usually worse after exercise, rather than during it.

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

Overpronation is the most common cause of plantar fasciitis. The term “overpronation” refers to when the arch of the foot collapses excessively downward or inward. Sometimes, people call this condition “flat fee”. As the foot rolls inward excessively when walking, it flattens the foot, lengthens the arch, and puts added tension on the plantar fascia. Over time, this causes inflammation.

Plantar fasciitis can also be caused by repetitive strain injury to the ligament of the sole of the foot. Such strain injury can be from excessive running or walking or inadequate foot gear.

A tight Achilles tendon (equinus) may also be to blame for your plantar fasciitis. Equinus causes the heel to lift too soon while walking. When the heel pops up off the ground, the sudden tug or pull on the plantar fascia causes inflammation and pain where it attaches to the bottom of the heel.

Plantar Fasciitis Treatment

Successful plantar fasciitis treatment often involves conservative measures, such as the use of anti-inflammatory medications, ice packs, stretching exercises, orthotic devices, and physical therapy. In a small number of cases, however, surgical options must be explored. In persistent cases, Extracorporeal Shock Wave Treatment (ESWT)** may be used to treat the heel pain.

Note: Please consult your physician before taking any medications.