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Plantar Fasciitis 101: The Facts Behind the Heel Pain

By: ceastway

Plantar fasciitis is one of the more common orthopedic conditions. Though it is important for podiatrists to diagnose it, plantar fasciitis treatment begins with identifying the symptoms.

Overview of Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fascia is a ligament that runs along the bottomof the foot and connects the heel bone to the first metatarsal,which is the bone behind the big toe. A young woman massaging her painful heelThis ligament is responsible for absorbing shocks and supporting the arches. With excessive pressure, the plantar fascia can become damaged. Strain and tears caused by the ligament being too tight or by compensating for an Achilles tendon that is too tight can lead to significant pain both when standing and when walking. Patients may experience this issue in one or both feet, and it often occurs in people who stand for long periods or who participate in sports.

Common Symptoms

The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain or stiffness, usually across the arch and radiating into the heel, that is worse in the morning. As feet become more limber through the day, the stiffness usually dissipates. However, some people notice that the stiffness returns toward the end of the day and is especially pronounced after a lot of standing or walking. Anyone experiencing persistent pain near the heel should see a podiatrist to determine if plantar fasciitis treatment is right for them or if some other condition is causing the pain.

Who Does Plantar Fasciitis Affect?

Anyone with flat feet or high arches could be prone to this condition. Active people ages 40–70 are at the greatest risk of developing plantar fasciitis, with it being more common in women. Obese or overweight people and those who roll their feet inward when walking often experience pain from plantar fasciitis, as do some pregnant women. This is due to the increased pressure on the plantar fascia caused by excess weight. Athletes, especially runners, are also more likely to have problems with their plantar fascia.

Typical Plantar Fasciitis Treatment

After a podiatrist confirms the diagnosis, treatment may include rest, icing the heel, prescription or over-the-counter pain relievers, and stretching exercises. Patients who do not respond to these remedies may need cortisone injections, which help reduce swelling. Orthotics, customized shoes with a cushioned sole, and better arch support may also be beneficial.

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