Plantar Fasciitis (Foot Pain) - Symptoms & Causes

What is plantar fasciitis (foot pain)?

The plantar fascia is the flat band of tissue (ligament) that connects your heel bone to your toes and supports the arch of your foot.

Plantar fasciitis (pronounced fas-ee-eye-tus) is a swelling of this ligament. It is one of the most common causes of heel pain and can occur in one or both feet.

What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis (foot pain)?

  • Pain at the bottom of your foot, near the heel area. The condition typically starts with gradual, mild pain felt at your heel bone.
  • 'First step pain', which is pain that occurs when you take your first steps upon waking up in the morning or after a long period of rest. This is also the most common symptom of plantar fasciitis.
  • Swelling and pain due to tiny tears from repeated strains on the ligament.
  • The pain may subside during exercise but recur after a period of rest and you could experience difficulty raising your toes off the floor.

What are the causes of plantar fasciitis (foot pain)?

Plantar fasciitis is caused by strain to the plantar fascia under the foot, which could be caused by a degenerative condition or a previous injury.

What are the risk factors of plantar fasciitis (foot pain)?

Plantar fasciitis (foot pain) is more likely to affect women, and people aged 40 – 60. Other risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Flat feet or high arches
  • Tight Achilles tendons
  • Frequent use of high heels
  • Long hours of standing daily
  • Using shoes with poor support
  • Exercising on hard surfaces
  • Recent increase in running, walking or standing

Leaving plantar fasciitis untreated may result in chronic heel pain that affects your regular activities.

  • If you have plantar fasciitis, you should avoid physical activity during an acute injury.
  • If you have chronic heel pain, you can do light exercises while wearing supportive footwear.
  • Stretching your calf muscles daily helps if you wear high heels.
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