Plantar fasciitis is a painful inflammatory condition caused by excessive wear to the plantar fascia (a thin layer of tough tissue) supporting the arch of the foot. The pain usually is felt on the underside of the heel, and is often most intense with the first steps of the day.
The symptoms of plantar fasciitis are:
- Pain on the bottom of the heel
- Pain that is usually worse upon arising
- Pain that increases over a period of months
There are a number of possible causes for plantar fasciitis and they often work in combination. Tightness of the foot and calf, improper athletic training, stress on the arch or weakness of the foot are potential causes. Shoes that don't fit, certain play or work actions or overuse (running too fast, too far, too soon) may hurt the plantar fascia. People with low arches, flat feet or high arches are at increased risk of developing plantar fasciitis.
Treatment for plantar fasciitis may include: rest, icing, an orthotic device, stretching exercise, and among other non-surgical treatment. More invasive procedures to treat plantar fasciitis are usually sought only after other treatment has failed to produce favorable results. Corticosteroid injections deliver medicine into the injured fascia to reduce pain. However, this treatment may weaken the plantar fascia and result in further damage. In addition, extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) is a treatment where sound waves are sent through the damaged tissue in order to stimulate the damaged tissue and encourage healing. This method is relatively new in treating plantar fasciitis and your doctor will be able to tell you if it is the right method for you. Lastly, surgery is the last option for those suffering from chronic or severe plantar fasciitis.