What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is a thick piece of fibrous connective tissue that extends from the heel bone and fans out along the bottom of the foot to the toes. The fascia provides support to the arch of the foot and acts as a shock absorber.
What Are Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis often occurs from repetitive impact to the heel, such as from athletic or high-impact activity:
- Exercise involving jumping
Risk factors that increase the risk of developing plantar fasciitis include:
- Prolonged standing
- Limited ankle flexibility
Plantar fasciitis is common among runners. Possible factors that may increase the risk of developing plantar fasciitis in runners include:
- Running too hard or too far
- Sudden increases in the distance run
- Improper running shoes
- Running on hard surfaces
- Prolonged walking or standing on hard surfaces
- Flat feet
- High arches
How Is Plantar Fasciitis Diagnosed?
Plantar fasciitis is diagnosed starting with a physical exam to check for tenderness in the sole of the foot.
Tests that may be used to confirm a diagnosis of plantar fasciitis include:
What Is the Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis?
Treatment for plantar fasciitis is usually conservative and aimed at reliving symptoms and may include:
- Limited activity
- Gentle stretching of the plantar fascia
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
- Naproxen (Aleve)
- Protective footwear
- Athletic shoes
- Arch-supporting shoes
- Shoes with rigid shanks
- Avoid slippers or going barefoot
- Shoe inserts
- Gel pad inserts or heel cups may provide temporary pain relief
- Silicone inserts may provide better support than felt pads or rubber heel cups
- Tape support
- "Low Dye" taping (wrapping the foot with athletic tape to reduce movement and promote healing)
If conservative, non-invasive methods fail to improve the condition, other treatments for plantar fasciitis include:
- Steroid injections for pain, though the effects usually only last a few weeks
- Walking cast
- Shockwave therapy, which involves using a special probe to generate sound waves that provide a burst of energy to the sole of the foot. This method is still unproven and requires more study.
Surgery for plantar fasciitis is usually a last resort
- Only recommended when all other treatments have failed and symptoms have persisted for at least 6 to 12 months
- Surgery involves detaching the plantar fascia from the heel bone
- Surgical release of the plantar fascia has a 70-90% success rate in treating plantar fasciitis