Do you think you might have plantar fasciitis? What is it, exactly? Plantar fasciitis is an orthopedic condition that causes heel pain and discomfort. The plantar fascia is a thin ligament that connects the front of the foot to the heel and supports a foot’s arch, helping you to walk.
The condition is common among people who live active lifestyles or are on their feet a lot. Over time, the plantar fascia ligaments wear down because they are essentially shock absorbers for your feet. When too much pressure is put on the ligaments, they can tear and become damaged, resulting in inflammation, heel stiffness and pain.
Who is Most at Risk of Developing Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is most common in individuals who are overweight, or pregnant because of the increased pressure placed on the plantar fascia ligaments. Athletes – especially runners, also have a higher likelihood of developing plantar fasciitis, as are people with jobs that require them to be on their feet for long periods of time. Women, in general, are more likely to develop the condition than men.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is feeling stiffness and pain on the bottom of the foot. The pain is usually centralized in the heel area, though it can affect the middle of the foot as well. The pain develops over time and typically only affects one foot, though some experience the condition in both feet. In addition, pain levels vary from person to person. While some report the pain as being dull and lingering, others experience more intense, sharp bursts of pain or even a burning sensation along their foot towards their heel.
People with plantar fasciitis experience pain and discomfort at different times of the day, depending on their lifestyles. For example, some experience their worst pain first thing in the morning or when they take the first few steps after sitting for a long period of time.
What to Look For
If you think you might have plantar fasciitis, it’s best to visit your podiatrist or physician for a consultation. During the appointment your care provider will examine your foot or feet and look for the following signs that might indicate plantar fasciitis:
* High arch or arches
* Tenderness on the bottom of the foot near the heel bone
* Intensified pain when your foot is flexed or your care provider presses down on the inflamed or tender area
* Limited ankle mobility
If you are diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, your healthcare provider will help you map out a course of treatment. Fortunately, the condition can often be treated without surgery so you can get back to living a pain-free life.