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What is Plantar Fasciitis?

By Sherry Holetzky
Updated Feb 05, 2024
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Plantar fasciitis, pronounced plan-ter fash-ee-eye-tis is a condition that creates pain in the feet, most frequently the heels. Pain or burning are caused by inflammation of the supporting structures of the foot. There are several causes for this inflammation, and they often work in conjunction with one another.

Standing for several consecutive hours on a hard surface, running too much or too hard, wearing improperly fitting shoes or those that don't have enough arch support, being overweight, and unusual tightness in the feet or legs, are all related to plantar fasciitis.

This condition can usually be diagnosed without extensive testing, since the most common sign of plantar fasciitis is heel pain upon awakening in the morning, or after an extended period of rest. Usually, the pain will decrease to some extent after a person has had time to loosen up and become fully engaged in an activity.

Applying ice or soaking the feet may help alleviate discomfort temporarily, as will over-the-counter pain relief medications and putting the feet up to rest them. However, plantar fasciitis should be treated to avoid further damage. One of the simplest and most productive treatments is stretching exercises. Stretch the foot by picking up small items off the floor with the toes and placing them into a box. This is an exercise that anyone can do at home with little to no cost, and without special equipment.

Other simple options include changing to better quality, better fitting shoes to help absorb shock, or using commercially available orthotics. Orthotics come in over-the-counter styles, such as arch supports, heel cups, and full foot inserts, but they can also be custom made by creating a cast of the patient's foot. Custom made orthotics can be expensive and it does take a while to have them made, but if your pain is severe, it may be well worth the time and expense. Night splints may be advised by your doctor and have been proven quite effective in treating plantar fasciitis. Surgery is necessary in rare cases to unbind ligaments.

Plantar fasciitis most commonly affects women, but can be a problem for anyone with short or damaged Achilles tendons, high arch, low arch, or flat feet. If you believe that you suffer from plantar fasciitis, do not ignore it hoping that it will go away. This condition can create permanent damage and can change the way that you walk, creating other painful problems throughout the body.

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Discussion Comments
By Maizie88 — On Aug 12, 2015

I have just recently became a believer in what taping can do for Plantar Fasciitis / Metatarsalgia / Morton's Neuroma. I had Morton's Neuroma and Metatarsalia and didn't start taping until about three weeks into my treatment regime, but as soon as I did, I could feel the difference. Your plantar just feels more stabilized with it on. I love it and try to tell everyone about it!

By anon992087 — On Aug 12, 2015

Has anyone else tried that BFST to help heal your plantar fasciitis? I've heard a lot about it. Anyone who's used it please let us know the results. There is a great website called 'talk plantar fasciitis' that gives tons of great information on ways to help.

By Maizie88 — On May 08, 2014

I am a treatment advisor for a company that deals with soft tissue injuries, and plantar fasciitis is one of the most common ailments I speak to people about. I know that most will tell you to stretch the foot, but please, please refrain from over stretching it. I actually suggest try not stretching it at all during your recovery time. Over stretching is what typically causes plantar fasciitis in the first place.

Put a cold compress on it, especially after any activity on your feet. You want to get down any inflammation so the healing process can begin. Blood flow is most essential for healing. The nutrients and oxygen it carries will help mend the tears in the fascia and will add elasticity and lubrication to prevent further damage.

I highly recommend looking into the BFST Foot wrap (by King Brand Healthcare Products). It promotes circulation to help accelerate your healing, as the body's natural ability to do this is quite slow.

By anon136591 — On Dec 23, 2010

@wattsup: Find a therapist who looks at the whole body. Find out why your foot is reacting the way it is. Find someone with the skills to trace tensional patterns that have resulted in the symptoms in your foot. Press in on your calf. See how tender certain muscles are that can be traced to your "pea"? Find someone who can explain this relationship and you will likely find some answers to your problem. Just never give up.

By FootStudent — On Dec 01, 2010

@Wattsup: I suggest you go see a podiatrist near your place so he can evaluate your condition. A plantar fasciitis is actually an inflammatory response of your plantar fascia or plantar aponeurosis which is kind of a ligament that maintains the foot arch elevated so that your foot is functional.

This is generally related to a flat foot deformity caused by too much movement in some foot articulations which is called hyperpronation (of the subtalar joint and/or midtarsal joint, but it might also appear in a high arch foot. When the condition is acute, meaning that there is a lot of pain and sweling, the treatment is called RICE, which means Rest, Ice about 15 minutes 3 times a day, Compression with an Ace wrap and Elevation to drain the inflammation.

Some exercises of stretching and muscle reinforcing could also be prescribed to help the condition. If this isn't enough, then a cortisone injection and the use of strapping might be needed to help reducing the inflammatory response and the pain. If the condition persists or is recurrent, then functional orthoses could be prescribed to help restore an appropriate biomechanics of the foot and help maintaining the foot arch so that pronation of the foot is controlled.

In your case, it looks like orthoses are now very used and/or inadequate. A exaggerated fibrosis of your plantar fascia might have happened and this could explain the growth on your left foot because of chronic plantar fasciitis, but this could be something else like a plantar fibroma, tenosynovial cyst, so i suggest you go see your foot doctor.

If none of these treatments are working out for you, then the shockwave therapy could be an other alternative to get rid of this pain and might be done by a physician somewhere near your place. Hope you do understand better what is a plantar fasciitis and the treatment options of this condition now.

By mcgowan — On Jul 10, 2007

Hi wattsup,

Ive had the same problem for a few months, went to doctors got referred to a surgeon and he's going to cut it out (13 august 2007), said i will be able to play sports again in 3 weeks.

By wattsup — On Jun 29, 2007

Hi! I have had problems with PF for years. First about 15 years ago after a year of exercises and orthotics it went away. Now about 2 years ago it came back. exercises help and I have gone back to orthotics but it has not helped. Now I have a growth

on my left foot on the tendon. I think. It's about the size of a pea and hurts like made when I push on it. I moved and haven't had a chance to go to a doctor. Has anyone experience anything like this with PF.

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