Plantar fasciitis

Person holding foot in pain

Plantar fasciitis is often the cause of heel pain. It happens when the thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone to the base of your toes, called the plantar fascia, becomes swollen or inflamed. This causes severe pain in your heel and arch, especially when you stand up after resting or sleeping.

Plantar fasciitis occurs most often in women or people with occupations that require walking or standing on hard surfaces. People with flat feet or high arches may also be more prone to plantar fasciitis. A heel spur is often associated with plantar fasciitis. When you have plantar fasciitis for an extended period, calcium deposits build up on your heel bone and create a heel spur.

Plantar fasciitis symptoms

The most common symptoms of plantar fasciitis are pain and stiffness in the bottom of your heel. Other symptoms may include:

  • Pain in the arch and/or bottom of your foot

  • Pain that worsens when you stand after a period of rest

  • Pain when you first step out of bed

  • Plantar fasciitis diagnosis

A physical exam is often the first step in diagnosing plantar fasciitis. Your doctor looks carefully at the painful area of your foot for swelling or tightness and takes note of physical characteristics like flat feet or high arches. 

Your doctor may also use X-rays to assess the bone structure of your foot and rule out another cause.

Plantar fasciitis treatment

Treatment for plantar fasciitis depends on the severity of your condition, age, general health and goals for recovery.

When plantar fasciitis is not well advanced, the RICE method may provide relief:

  • Rest the joint

  • Ice the affected area

  • Compress the area with an elastic bandage

  • Elevate the joint

One of the most important aspects of treatment for plantar fasciitis is frequent stretching. This is to stretch the foot/Achilles tendon and the calf muscle.

Other treatments may include:

  • A cast or brace to hold the injured area in place and provide stability.

  • Anti-inflammatory medication—like ibuprofen or naproxen for pain relief and to reduce swelling of the foot.

  • Orthotics—custom-made shoe inserts

  • Exercise—to stretch and strengthen the muscle in your foot.

  • Night splints—to maintain correct ankle and toe positions while sleeping.

  • Physical therapy—help reduce heel pain when you first get out of bed.

  • Steroid shots—injected into the heel to help relieve pain.

The world-class team of specialists at The Christ Hospital Health Network offers the area’s most advanced diagnosis and treatment of foot issues. If you suffer from foot or heel pain, call today to get the help you need.