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What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia located on the bottom surface of the foot. It is characterized by pain in the medial or inner arch of the foot that is usually worse when getting out of bed in the morning and can be further exacerbated by prolonged weight bearing activity or training. Plantar faciitis is often associated with an increase in training, poor footwear or running surface, high arches, high BMI and decreased flexibility.

Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum
Integrative Medicine Specialist

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of pain by the heel and sometimes along the entire bottom of your foot. It occurs when you have a tightness/irritation of the muscles and tissues that form the "suspension bridge" on the bottom of your foot.

This is also very common in fibromyalgia patients.

One of the most common injuries among runners, plantar fasciitis doesn't just affect those who gallop for a living or for recreation. The result: Intense pain in the foot and heel (and a lovely looking limp to boot). The plantar fascia is a thick bundle of tissues that runs from the toes to the heel on the bottom of your foot. When that tissue gets overworked, it creates tears in the fascia—resulting in inflammation and pain most often occurring near the heel. It can be a very slow-healing condition (because there's not a whole lot of blood supply to the area), which makes it all the more frustrating. It will feel like severe bruising on the bottom of the heel (it typically feels worse in the morning when you first put weight on it), and it typically happens because of overpronation of the forefoot (rolling the front of the foot too far to the inside).

To stretch and strengthen the area, sit in a chair with your affected foot crossed over the other leg, so your ankle is resting on your knee. Grab your toes and bend them up toward your shin. This will stretch the plantar to help relieve some of the pain. Make sure you get good running shoes that can help control the overpronation; cushioned heel inserts and shoes with rubber soles can help. You may also want to add anti-inflammatories.

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Dr. Kelly Traver
Internist

Plantar fasciitis is the most common injury of the foot. It is an inflammation of the connective tissue extending from the calcaneus, or heel bone, to metatarsals at the ball of your foot. Repetitive use from prolonged walking or running leads to small tears in the fascia, resulting in scarring and pain. This can cause the feet to be stiff in the morning with pain on the undersurface of the feet when walking. To treat or prevent plantar fasciitis, it is important that you have supportive, cushioned shoes. You can buy inserts for shoes to improve support and cushioning. In severe cases, physical therapy and orthotics are necessary, but in most cases, complete recovery is possible simply with better foot support, rest, ice and, sometimes, a short course of anti-inflammatories. You can also do three simple stretching exercises at home to speed resolution and prevent recurrence. Stretching is most effective if you do it several times a day.

If you have pain at the bottom of your foot just in front of the heel, you may have an inflammation of the plantar fascia or plantar fasciitis, a band of ligaments and tendons that stretches from the heel bone to the bones of the toes. The fascia forms the arch of the foot and is a shock absorber for the body. Plantar fasciitis can result from chronic overuse during high-impact exercise, uneven stride and poorly designed shoes.

Dr. James P. Ioli, DPM
Podiatrist (Foot Specialist)

Plantar fasciitis, or pain at the attachment of the plantar fascia—the ligament-like structure that runs from your heel to the ball of your foot—is a leading cause of heel pain, affecting two million people in the United States and accounting for one million doctor's visits annually. And it's no wonder; when too much pressure or strain is placed on the plantar fascia, it can become inflamed, usually at the heel. This can happen to anyone, but occurs more often in those who overdo high-impact exercise, are obese or wear shoes that don't provide proper support. If you develop plantar fasciitis, you usually feel pain under your heel when you first get out of bed. The pain may ease as you walk around, only to return later in the day.

Plantar fasciitis involves a soft tissue structure on the bottom of your foot called the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia connects the heel to the toes and supports the bottom of your foot. Plantar fasciitis is caused by pain and inflammation of this soft tissue structure. Injury to the plantar fascia may be caused by activity (such as running) or different foot abnormalities (such as high or low arch). As you sleep at night, the plantar fascia becomes stiffened, causing more pain when you get up in the morning. It may loosen up shortly after you get up or move, but may become irritated as the day progresses.

This answer provided for NATA by the Eastern University Athletic Training Education Program.

Continue Learning about Plantar Fasciitis

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.