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...Learn more
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. More than one million Americans deal with plantar fasciitis each year, and fortunately it's usually easy to diagnose the condition with a visit to your doctor and without an X-Ray or MRI.
You may also have plantar fasciitis if you’re feeling pain on the bottom of your foot, as the plantar fascia runs along your sole to connect your heel and and the front of your foot.
Plantar fasciitis pain is generally felt in one heel, but in up to 30 percent of cases the pain is felt in both heels.
Diagnosing plantar fasciitis
Your doctor will want to rule out other common heel and foot pain culprits, and the position of the pain can help them pin down the problem. If the pain is coming from near your Achilles tendon at the back of your ankle, you may have Achilles tendinitis—a common complaint among runners.
Four out of five patients with plantar fasciitis also experienced tightness in their Achilles tendon, so it’s very possible you have both afflictions.
Pain located at the back of the heel and that you feel more at the end of the day may be from bursitis. This is even more likely if you have a “pump bump” from wearing high heels.
Plantar fasciitis feels like a stabbing sensation in the bottom of your heels or the soles of your feet. If you hurt the most when you first wake up for the day or when you stand following a long period of sitting, that pain is likely from plantar fasciitis.
You can expect questions about your medical history and a physical examination if you see a doctor for plantar fasciitis. Your doctor may stretch your toes or apply pressure to your heels to see if you experience a pain response in line with plantar fasciitis.
Risk factors for plantar fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is common among folks who are athletic as well as those who aren’t as active. The former tends to put more strain on the plantar fascia, while the latter group is more likely to have weak muscles and tendons in the surrounding areas. Both extremes can increase your risk of plantar fasciitis. The condition is also most common for folks between 40 and 60 years old.
Anyone who stands for long hours, perhaps for work or after spending a day at an event, is also more likely to experience plantar fasciitis. Obesity can increase your risk of getting plantar fasciitis, and it’s also more common among those who are pregnant—likely due to a spike in weight gain.
The shape of your foot or the way you walk and run can also increase your risk of plantar fasciitis. The condition is more common among those with excessive foot pronation, which means you put too much pressure on the inside of your foot with each step.
If your legs are different lengths, this can cause over-pronation—as can various other foot and leg conditions. The increased strain from over-pronation can contribute to plantar fasciitis, and placing a lift in the shoe of the shorter limb may temporarily relieve the associated pain. High arches can also make you more likely to develop plantar fasciitis.
If you’ve recently begun exercising more often or with more intensity, especially if you are a runner, you’re at a greater risk for plantar fasciitis. The same is true if you are sedentary during the week but play sports or get active on the weekends. This risk increases if the exercise or sport puts a lot of impact on your feet, like jogging or anything involving a lot of running and jumping.