Understanding the Ins and Outs of Plantar Fasciitis and How to Treat It

Emily Chan
Published Mar 10, 2024



The symptoms of plantar fasciitis can range from mildly annoying to completely debilitating. The condition is caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, the band of connective tissue that stretches from the heel to the ball of the foot. The condition is extremely prevalent in runners, however, it can strike anyone to some degree. Here is an overview of the condition, including risk factors, symptoms, and treatment tips.
 

Plantar Fasciitis Risk Factors



You do not have to be an athlete or exercise enthusiast to be at risk of developing plantar fasciitis. The condition is most common in individuals between the ages of 40 and 60. Being overweight can aggravate the issue because of the pressure that is naturally put on the plantar fascia tissue.

There are also specific types of exercise that may put you at a higher risk of developing this condition. Activities that apply pressure to the heel are some of the most likely culprits. This includes running, dancing, and basketball. Individuals who have jobs that require that they spend extended periods of time on their feet are also more at risk. Occupations that see a high incidence of the condition include factory workers, nurses, and teachers.

Lastly, simple foot mechanics can also increase the odds that you experience plantar fasciitis. For instance, flat-footed individuals or those with exceptionally high arches may be at a higher risk.
 

Plantar Fasciitis Causes



The causes of plantar fasciitis encompass a wide array of causes ranging from poor genetics to improper exercise form. At its root, the condition is caused by stress and tension that creates tears in the fibers of the connective tissue. These tears trigger the inflammation that presents as plantar fasciitis.

Wearing shoes with inadequate support, not warming up prior to engaging in physical activity, or exercising too much can all aggravate the condition. Runners often see the problem flare up when they change their choice of running surfaces, for example, going from the treadmill to pavement.
 

Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms



It can often be challenging to distinguish plantar fasciitis from other types of foot issues. Symptoms include pain that flares up on the bottom of the heel after you have been resting or sleeping. What makes this more confusing is that the pain may also get worse after an exercise session or simply for standing for a long period of time.

Some plantar fasciitis sufferers experience bone spurs along with the aggravation. While some people report pain along the arch area, this is not as common as the discomfort in the heel. The good news is that plantar fasciitis is relatively easy to diagnose with a standard physical exam.
 

Plantar Fasciitis Treatment Options



There are a number of treatment options available to those with plantar fasciitis. The first line of defense is typically an ice treatment. Combine the icing with elevation for the best results. You can also try treating the pain with an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Note that the use of this medication to reduce inflammation should not be a long-term treatment option.

Changing up your footwear can also make a significant difference in how your heel feels. A podiatrist can recommend the right type of footwear for your needs, most typically based on your foot pronation. Some sufferers also find great relief through the use of shoe inserts. You can choose either commercial inserts or ask a podiatrist to make a custom pair.

Switching up your exercise routine can also provide relief from plantar fasciitis. Non-impact exercises are recommended for individuals trying to treat the issue. It is also a good idea to cut back on the duration of your sweat sessions.

Other good treatment options include proper stretching of the impacted area, avoiding walking barefoot or without supportive shoes, wearing a night splint, or through the use of acupuncture. Do not hesitate to visit the doctor if you cannot find relief through at-home remedies.

Understanding all of the facets of plantar fasciitis will help you to properly diagnose the problem and get yourself on the road to recovery. You do not have to let foot pain slow you down in life.

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