What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis (fash-ee-eye-tus) is a painful condition where the large ligament (plantar fascia) that runs along the bottom of the foot becomes irritated and painful due to chronic stress and tension on the arch. This thick band of tissue connects the heel bone to the toes and is the main source of support for the foot. Pain is commonly felt around the heel or along the arch when walking on the injured foot. The pain may feel sharp or stabbing and may be more severe early in the day when you first begin walking. The pain is usually more severe when walking without shoes or with shoes with little or no arch support. This condition is more common in runners but can affect anyone. Those with extremely high or flat arches are more prone to this condition.
How is plantar fasciitis diagnosed?
Plantar fasciitis can be quickly diagnosed by a sports medicine physician with a physical examination. Severe cases that involved sprains of the fascia or coinciding bone spurs may require diagnostic imaging for confirmation.
At home treatment includes applying ice to the area to relieve pain, and gently stretching the fascia as well as the calf muscle to relieve tension on the arch. Shoes with flat soles or heels should be avoided until the condition resolves. Tennis shoes should also be evaluated for proper fit and arch support and shoe insoles should be considered. Foot and shoe evaluations can be made by physical therapists or specially trained running shoe stores can also recommend tennis shoe options and insoles. If left untreated, this condition can become increasingly painful and potentially damage the fascia or cause bone spurs to develop on the heel. If pain increases in severity or does not resolve within a few weeks, seek further care from a sports medicine specialist.