What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis: Overview

Plantar fasciitis is pain and inflammation of the plantar fascia, the tissue at the bottom of your foot that connects the heel bone to the toes. The plantar fascia also supports the arch. If you strain the plantar fascia, it can develop small tears and cause heel pain when you stand or walk.

Plantar fasciitis can be caused by running or other sports. It also may occur in people who are overweight or who have high arches or flat feet. You may get plantar fasciitis if you walk or stand for long periods, or have a tight Achilles tendon or calf muscles.

You can improve your foot pain with rest and other care at home. It might take a few weeks to a few months for your foot to heal completely.

Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis (say "PLAN-ter fash-ee-EYE-tus") is inflammation along the bottom of the foot and heel. It happens when the flat band of tissue (ligament) that supports the arch of your foot is inflamed or irritated.

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. It is common in people who run a lot or stand on hard surfaces for long periods of time. It can happen in one foot or both feet.

What happens when you have plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis most often occurs because of injuries that have happened over time. With treatment, you will have less pain within a few weeks. But it may take time for the pain to go away completely. It may take a few months to a year.

What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?

The main symptom of plantar fasciitis is heel pain when you take your first steps after you get out of bed or after you sit for a long time. It gets better after a few steps but gets worse as the day goes on. You may also have:

  • Pain that gets worse when you climb stairs or stand on your toes.
  • Pain after you stand for long periods.
  • Pain at the start of exercise. It gets better or goes away as exercise continues, but it comes back when exercise is done.

Plantar fasciitis may be mistaken for other conditions with similar symptoms, such as a stress fracture or a nerve problem such as tarsal tunnel syndrome.

How is plantar fasciitis treated?

No single treatment works best for everyone with plantar fasciitis. But there are things you can try to help your foot get better. For example, cut back on activities that make your foot hurt. Stretch your toes and calves several times a day. Put ice on your heel to reduce pain.

How is plantar fasciitis diagnosed?

To diagnose plantar fasciitis, your doctor will ask questions about:

  • Your past health. This includes what illnesses or injuries you've had.
  • Your symptoms. Examples are where the pain is and at what time of day your foot hurts most.
  • How active you are.
  • What types of physical activity you do.

If you are an athlete, your doctor may look for other problems. These may include issues with how your feet strike the ground, how your feet are shaped, or your training routine.

X-rays aren't helpful in diagnosing plantar fasciitis because they don't show ligaments clearly. But you might get X-rays if your doctor suspects a stress fracture, a bone spur, or some other foot or ankle bone problem.

How can you care for yourself when you have plantar fasciitis?

To ease plantar fasciitis, rest your feet often. Take over-the-counter pain medicines as directed. Massage your feet with ice to help with pain. Calf stretches and towel stretches can help, especially when you do them first thing after waking up. Wear shoes with good arch support, and avoid going barefoot or wearing slippers.

What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. The plantar fascia is the ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes. If you strain your plantar fascia, it gets irritated or inflamed. Then your heel or the bottom of your foot hurts when you stand or walk.

What causes plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is caused by straining the ligament (plantar fascia) that supports your arch. Repeated strain can cause tiny tears in the plantar fascia. These can lead to pain along the bottom of the foot and heel. This may be more likely to happen if:

  • You have high arches.
  • You have tight Achilles tendons or calf muscles.
  • You walk, stand, or run for long periods of time, especially on hard surfaces.
  • You are overweight.
  • You wear shoes that don't fit well or are worn out.

Plantar fasciitis: When to call

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have heel pain with fever, redness, or warmth in your heel.
  • You cannot put weight on the sore foot.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have numbness or tingling in your heel.
  • Your heel pain lasts more than 2 weeks.

©2011-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated

The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.