by Robert S. Dinsmoor
Inflammation of tissue on the sole of the foot, causing pain in the heel. The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that starts at the heel, passes along the bottom of the foot, and attaches to the base of the toes. Overuse of the plantar fascia may cause it to swell, tear, or bruise. This is more likely to occur in people who have high arches or flat feet or are overweight. People who walk or run a lot, work on their feet, or wear shoes that offer poor support are also at increased risk. Plantar fasciitis may furthermore be a sign of certain types of underlying arthritis.
Often the first sign of plantar fasciitis is heel pain upon stepping out of bed in the morning. The pain, often described as stabbing, usually decreases as the foot is stretched out during the day.
A number of nonmedical measures can help lessen the heel pain of plantar fasciitis. People who walk or run a great deal may benefit from cutting back on these activities. Overweight people can ease symptoms by losing weight. Stretching exercises may also help. One commonly recommended stretching exercise involves pressing the hands against a wall with both arms extended, keeping the affected foot slightly behind the other, and slowly bending both knees for about 10–15 seconds. This should be repeated roughly 10 times for each affected heel.
Your doctor can also prescribe a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) to ease the pain and inflammation of plantar fasciitis. Shoe inserts or special orthotic shoes may also be helpful. These measures significantly improve symptoms in the vast majority of people within two months.
If heel pain doesn’t improve after several months of this treatment, more aggressive measures may be taken, such as injecting corticosteroids into the heel. In some cases, people with plantar fasciitis must wear a walking cast during the day and/or a night splint while sleeping. In rare cases, in which symptoms continue for 6 to 12 months, surgery may be needed.
Last Reviewed November 16, 2011
Get the latest arthritis news and the most useful self-management tips delivered to your inbox twice a month! Sign up for our free e-mail newsletter today.
Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.