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Plantar fasciitis is a very specific condition and the most common cause of heel pain. It represents the inflammation of the plantar fascia. The inflammation in the tissue is the result of some type of injury to the plantar fascia.

Typically, plantar fasciitis results from the repeated trauma to the tissue where it attaches to the calcaneus. Plantar fasciitis is common in middle-aged people. It also occurs in younger people who are on their feet a lot, like athletes or soldiers. It can occur in one foot or both feet.

Anatomy

The plantar fascia is a flat band of tissue - a ligament that connects heel bone to your toes. It supports the arch of your foot. It is attached to the heel bone and fans out to attach to the bottom of the metatarsal bones in the region of the ball of the foot. Since the normal foot has an arch, this tight band of tissue is at the base of it. In this position, the plantar fascia acts like a bowstring to maintain the arch of the foot.

Signs and symptoms of plantar fasciitis

Although plantar fasciitis usually develops gradually, it can also come on suddenly and be severe. Plantar fasciitis can affect both feet, but it usually occurs in only one foot at a time.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Sharp pain in the inside part of the bottom of your heel, which may feel like a knife sticking in the bottom of your foot
  • Heel pain that tends to be worse with the first few steps after awakening, when climbing stairs or when standing on tiptoe
  • Heel pain after long periods of standing or after getting up from a seated position
  • Heel pain after, but usually not during exercise
  • Mild swelling in your heel
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