What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Today let's focus on plantar fasciitis, which is a painful condition affecting the bottom of the foot. It is a common cause of heel pain and is sometimes called a heel spur.

Plantar fasciitis is usually just on one side, but in about 30 percent of all cases, both feet are affected.

How Does Plantar Fasciitis Happen?

Bone spurs can occur along with plantar fasciitis but they are not the cause of the problem.

Plantar fasciitis can develop from a number of underlying causes. Because of this, finding the precise reason for heel pain is sometimes difficult.

As you can imagine, when the foot is on the ground a tremendous amount of force (the full weight of the body) is concentrated on the plantar fascia.

This force stretches the plantar fascia as the arch of the foot tries to flatten from the weight of your body. This leads to stress on the plantar fascia where it attaches to the heel bone. Small tears of the fascia can result. These tears are normally repaired by the body.

As this process of injury and repair repeats itself over and over again, a bone spur (a pointed outgrowth of the bone) sometimes forms as the body tries to firmly attach the fascia to the heel bone. Bone spurs occur along with plantar fasciitis but they are not the cause of the problem.

As we age, the very important fat pad that makes up the fleshy portion of the heel becomes thinner and degenerates (starts to break down). This can lead to inadequate padding on the heel.


Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis Can Vary

The symptoms of plantar fasciitis include pain along the inside edge of the heel near the arch of the foot. The pain is worse when weight is placed on the foot.

This is usually most pronounced in the morning when the foot is first placed on the floor. Prolonged standing can also increase the painful symptoms. It may feel better after activity but most patients report increased pain by the end of the day.

Pressing on this part of the heel causes tenderness. Pulling the toes back toward the face can be very painful.