Medical Library: Foot & Ankle – Plantar Fascitis

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot that extends from the heel to the toes, and is a common, painful foot condition. Plantar fasciitis is most often seen in middle-aged men and women, but can be found in all age groups. Plantar fasciitis is diagnosed with the classic symptoms of pain well localized over the heel area of the bottom of the foot. Often the pain from plantar fasciitis is most severe when you first stand on your feet in the morning. Pain often subsides quite quickly, but then returns after prolonged standing or walking.

Plantar fasciitis is also sometimes seen in recreational athletes, especially runners. In these athletes, it is thought that the repetitive nature of the sports causes the damage to the fibrous tissue that forms the arch of the foot.

Identifying the source of the problem is important for recovery and prevention of a chronic condition. The most common causes of plantar fasciitis are inappropriate or poor-fitting footwear; decreased muscle flexibility (especially in the calf muscles); altered foot mechanics (too flexible or too rigid ); overuse; and obesity.

A thorough examination and evaluation completed by a physical therapist can help determine the cause of the problem. The therapist will design a personal treatment plan that may include manual therapy, joint and soft tissue mobilization, foot orthotics if necessary, and recommendations for footwear.