When your first few steps out of bed in the
morning cause severe pain in the heel of your foot, you may have plantar
fasciitis (fashee-EYE-tiss). It's an overuse injury affecting the sole
or flexor surface (plantar) of the foot. A diagnosis of plantar
fasciitis means you have inflamed the tough, fibrous band of tissue
(fascia) connecting your heel bone to the base of your toes.
You're more likely to get the condition if you're a woman, if you're
overweight, or if you have a job that requires a lot of walking or
standing on hard surfaces. You're also at risk if you walk or run for
exercise, especially if you have tight calf muscles that limit how far
you can flex your ankles. People with very flat feet or very high arches
are also more prone to plantar fasciitis.
The condition starts gradually with mild pain at the heel bone often
referred to as a stone bruise. You're more likely to feel it after (not
during) exercise. The pain classically occurs again after arising from a
midday lunch break.
If you don't treat plantar fasciitis, it may become a chronic
condition. You may not be able to keep up your level of activity and you
may also develop symptoms of foot, knee, hip and back problems because
of the way plantar fasciitis changes the way you walk.
Rest is the first treatment for plantar fasciitis. Try to keep weight
off your foot until the inflammation goes away. You can also apply ice
to the sore area for 20 minutes three or four times a day to relieve
your symptoms. Often a doctor will prescribe nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen. A program of home
exercises to stretch your Achilles tendon and plantar fascia are the
mainstay of treating the condition and lessening the chance of
About 90 percent of people with plantar fasciitis improve
significantly after two months of initial treatment. You may be advised
to use shoes with shock-absorbing soles or fitted with a standard
orthotic device like a rubber heel pad. Your foot may be taped into a
If your plantar fasciitis continues after a few months of
conservative treatment, your doctor may inject your heel with steroidal
anti-inflammatory medications (corticosteroid). If you still have
symptoms, you may need to wear a walking cast for 2-3 weeks or
positional splint when you sleep. In a few cases, you might need surgery
to release your ligament.