If you have heel pain, you probably have plantar fasciitis. While it isn’t the only source of that stabbing pain you feel in your heel, plantar fasciitis is by far the most common cause....Learn more
What is plantar fasciitis?
If pain from plantar fasciitis is holding you back, you aren’t alone. Plantar fasciitis is the most common source of heel pain in the United States, and it’s estimated 1 in 10 people will develop plantar fasciitis at some point in their lives.
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis often include a stabbing pain in your heel. The pain may be felt at the front or center of your heel bone. You may also feel plantar fasciitis pain on the bottom or arch of your foot, and the pain may become worse as you stand or walk.
Plantar means relating to the sole of the foot, and fascia is a term for fibrous tissue. The plantar fascia, then, is a band of connective tissue beneath your foot that runs from your heel to the front of your foot. Your plantar fascia absorbs shock and supports you while you walk, and wear and tear on this weblike ligament is common.
Plantar fasciitis: causes and complications
Tension, stress and impact from walking, running or other activities can cause small tears in your plantar fascia, and repeated damage can cause the plantar fascia to swell. Plantar fasciitis refers to the pain and stiffness you feel from that inflammation and irritation.
Plantar fasciitis pain is usually the most intense after periods of inactivity. The pain is often most noticeable first thing in the morning when you get out of bed, or when you stand up after you’ve been sitting or driving for an extended period. The pain can also sharpen if you’ve been standing for a long time, or immediately after exercising.
If plantar fasciitis goes untreated you may develop chronic heel pain, and when you’re in pain your body will often adjust your stance or the way you walk to protect you from that pain. These abnormal shifts in the way your body moves or how you stand can lead to pain in other areas of your body—often in joints like your knees and hips, or problem areas like your back.
Plantar fasciitis and heel spurs
In your search for heel pain relief you may have read about heel spurs, which are small growths of bone that protrude out from your heel. Doctors used to believe heel spurs themselves caused the heel pain associated with plantar fasciitis. While there may be a connection between plantar fasciitis and the formation of heel spurs, most experts no longer believe the spurs themselves cause the pain.
In most cases, the heel pain in question can be relieved without removing the spur. However, a particularly large heel spur or one that protrudes out enough to be felt through your skin can be a source of pain. If more conservative treatments for plantar fasciitis don’t relieve your pain, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove a spur.
Fortunately, conservative treatments like resting, stretching and better shoes can usually put a stop to plantar fasciitis pain.