July 01, 2019

Plantar fasciitis

New options for foot pain

If you have plantar fasciitis (PLAN-tur fas-e-I-tis) pain, you're likely reminded of it every time you get out of bed in the morning. The plantar fascia is a fibrous band of tissue on the bottom of the foot. It connects the heel to the toes and supports the arch of your foot, acting as a shock absorber when you put pressure on your foot.

Plantar fasciitis discomfort occurs at the bottom of your foot, typically near the heel bone. It can range from a dull sensation to piercing pain. Often, it comes on gradually and affects only one foot, though it can start suddenly and affect both feet. The discomfort is usually worse in the morning.

Most people with plantar fasciitis improve with basic care steps or physical therapy. However, healing can be slow, requiring perseverance. Newer, nonsurgical therapy options are helping with hard-to-treat cases.

Damage, not inflammation

Plantar fasciitis occurs when stress and strain cause microscopic tears in the fascia. There may be a temporary inflammatory reaction to the injury, but the true problem is degeneration of the fascia, not the inflammation.

Older adults are the most likely age group to have plantar fasciitis. The risk of plantar fasciitis is increased by factors that put extra strain on the feet such as obesity, high-impact activities such as running or dance aerobics, and certain faulty foot mechanics such as flat feet, high arches or an abnormal walking pattern. Having a tight Achilles tendon or ankle muscles is also a risk factor.

Risk rises if you suddenly...