If you notice pain or stiffness in your heel during activity, plantar fasciitis could be the culprit. Understanding the sources of plantar fasciitis can help ease the symptoms of this condition and prevent it from recurring.


Common Causes

Plantar fasciitis is caused by swelling of the fascia, a band of muscle tissue at the bottom of the foot, connecting the heel bone to the toes. This tendon can become inflamed with overuse, causing the symptoms associated with this condition. This injury is most common among: long-distance runners, especially those who run uphill or on uneven surfaces, people who are obese, particularly if they've gained weight suddenly, individuals who spend long hours on their feet, such as factory workers, and those who have started a new type of exercise, notably after a period of inactivity. Inflammation of the fascia can also be caused by poorly fitting shoes and by the natural anatomy of the foot, such as flat feet, high arches, or a tight Achilles tendon.

This condition is most common among those ages 40 to 60, although earlier onset may occur among athletes and others in high-risk categories.


Symptoms & Diagnosis

While there are many potential sources of foot pain, plantar fasciitis is often characterized by sharp pain that's worse first thing in the morning or upon standing after you've been sitting for an extended period. If you suspect you have this condition, it is recommended to have a full exam conducted to make a diagnosis. In some cases, X-rays are required to confirm the swelling of the fascia.



The good news is that although painful, this condition is quite treatable. In many cases, patients see relief with a combination of over-the-counter pain medication to reduce inflammation, stretching exercises, splinting the foot at night, resting the foot whenever possible, and icing the affected area twice a day for 15 minutes. Wearing shoes with good support is also essential.

In more severe cases, casting, steroid shots, or custom-made orthotics may be required to relieve plantar fasciitis symptoms.