And, What Exactly Is Plantar Fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is a long, thin ligament that lies directly beneath the skin on the bottom of your foot. It connects the heel to the front of your foot, plus supports the arch of your foot.
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia becomes inflamed or irritated, resulting in a sharp or dull pain felt at the bottom of the heel. Many things, such as carrying extra weight to wearing unsupportive footwear, can cause this pain. Although treatment can be really simple, the pain of plantar fasciitis can be fairly severe.
Common symptoms of plantar fasciitis:
- Sharp or dull pain felt at the bottom of the foot directly on or near the heel
- Pain that is most severe upon waking and standing
- Pain that worsens after prolonged weight-bearing
- Pain that is relieved with rest
- Heel swelling and/or stiffness
When a person has plantar fasciitis, the connective tissue that forms the arch of the foot becomes inflamed. As the stress placed on the inflamed plantar fascia continues, micro tears develop, which may cause the development of a bony growth called a heel spur.
Factors that could increase your risk for developing plantar fasciitis:
- Excessive training, such as long-distance walking or running
- Rapid weight gain
- Prolonged standing
- Tight calf muscles or a tight Achilles tendon
- Improper footwear
- Flat feet
- Very high foot arches
Diagnosis of plantar fasciitis requires a medical history and physical exam. During the medical history, your doctor will ask you where your pain is located, and whether it’s worse in the morning and/or with prolonged standing.
Your doctor will look for plantar fascia tenderness. While holding your foot, he will bend your toes toward your shin and then press along your plantar fascia from your heel to forefoot.
The treatment of plantar fasciitis can begin with these simple, self-care steps:
Resting your foot is perhaps the most important step you can take to ease your plantar fasciitis-related pain. Avoid irritating activities, like those that place unnecessary strain on your foot (e.g., running, jumping, dancing, or walking barefoot).
Applying a cold compress or ice pack to the back of your foot for 15-minute sessions, several times a day, can ease pain and swelling. Wrap the ice pack in a thin towel, so it’s not in direct contact with your skin.
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