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Plantar Fasciitis

Dr. Matt Brown
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What is plantar fasciitis?

The leading cause of heel pain, plantar fasciitis affects two million people every year. The condition occurs when the plantar fascia (the thick, weblike band of tissue that connects your toes and heel bone) becomes inflamed.The plantar fascia is designed to absorb stress and protect our feet; however, excessive wear can damage or tear the tissue.

Patients suffering from plantar fasciitis often feel pain near the heel of the foot, particularly after long periods of standing or sitting. Pain tends to decrease throughout the day with normal activity.

Plantar fasciitis is especially common in runners, women, overweight individuals, and those who wear shoes with poor support. Individuals whose occupations require lots of walking or standing and those with “flat feet” or unusually high arches are at increased risk of developing plantar fasciitis.Source: OrthoInfo

Plantar fasciitis symptoms

The painful symptoms of plantar fasciitis are most commonly felt around the bottom of the heel, but some people also experience pain around the arch or mid-foot area. Although it typically affects just one foot, plantar fasciitis can in some cases affect both feet. The condition can present either with a dull pain, a sharp or shooting pain, or a burning or tingling sensation.

Plantar fasciitis symptoms tend to be most intense in the morning or if you’ve been sitting or lying down for long durations. In addition, patients often have difficulty climbing stairs or participating in prolonged physical activities.

The most common symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis include:

  • Pain near the heel on the bottom of the foot
  • Pain with the first few steps in the morning or after sitting for a prolonged period
  • Pain that subsides after a few minutes of normal activity
  • Pain after exercise or climbing stairs

Source: Healthline

What causes plantar fasciitis?

Your plantar fascia is meant to support the arch of your foot and act as a shock-absorbing bowstring, but excessive tension and stress in the tendon can result in small tears. Repetitive stretching and tearing are known contributors to plantar fasciitis, though an exact cause is unattributable. There are, however, known risk factors.

The most common causes of Plantar Fasciitis include:

  • Long-distance running and other activities that place stress on the heel
  • Flat-footedness, a high arch, or an abnormal walking pattern
  • Obesity
  • Jobs that require walking or standing on hard surfaces
  • Typically presents in individuals aged 40 to 60

Source: Mayo Clinic

Physical therapy for plantar fasciitis

Only around 7% of patients with plantar fasciitis are prescribed physical therapy, but evidence suggests that physical therapy represents one of the best possible remedies. A combination of manual therapy and exercises have been shown to reduce pain and improve the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Statistics show that patients who receive physical therapy average fewer doctor visits and a lower cost of care.

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