Plantar fasciitis is a condition that causes heel pain. It is actually one of the most common causes of heel pain. It is characterized by inflammation and pain that occurs in the plantar fascia, which is a thick band of tissue that is located along the bottom of the foot. The plantar fascia connects the toes to the bone of the heel. Plantar fasciitis affects about two million people in the United States every year.
Plantar fasciitis most commonly affects people who are runners, are overweight or obese, or wear shoes that do not provide good enough support for their feet. The pain associated with plantar fasciitis usually occurs in the morning with the very first few steps that a person takes when getting out of bed. After a few moments of walking around though, the pain usually gets better. Sometimes, it can last for longer periods of time though especially when standing around or getting up after siting for a long time.
What causes plantar fasciitis? The plantar fascia is normally supposed to protect your foot by acting as a support system for the arch in the bottom of the foot. However, if too much tension is placed on the bottom of the foot, the plantar fascia can tear. If this occurs over and over again, the plantar fascia will eventually stretch and tear. This can eventually result in inflammation and irritation in the plantar fascia which can cause pain and discomfort.
The risk factors that increase your risk of developing plantar fasciitis include:
· Age. Plantar fasciitis most commonly affects people between the ages of 40 and 60.
· Being obese puts additional stress on the plantar fascia.
· Exercises or activities that place a lot of stress on your heel and attached tissue (i.e. long-distance running)
· Jobs that require standing on your feet for long period of time.
· Being flat-footed, having a high arch or having an abnormal walking pattern can affect the way weight is placed on the heels which can add stress to the plantar fascia.
Treatment for plantar fasciitis include medications, therapies, surgery, or other procedures. Medications include pain relievers which can relieve the pain and inflammation. Therapies include physical therapy, night splints, or orthotics. Surgery may be recommended to detach the plantar fascia from the bone to relieve severe pain. Other procedures include steroid shots or extracorporeal shock wave therapy.