September 1, 2014
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Condition Factsheets

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Plantar Fasciitis

(Heel Spur, Heel Spur Syndrome)

The Facts on Plantar Fasciitis

To find out where this condition gets its name, we need to look at a specific area of the foot. Your foot is made up of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The plantar fascia is a relatively inflexible, strong, fibrous band on the bottom of the foot that supports the arch of your foot.

Beginning at the heel bone, the plantar fascia extends the length of your foot to connect with your toes at the ball of the foot. When you walk, your weight is distributed across your feet. Any imbalances in the mechanics of your foot and distribution of weight can potentially cause pain.

Diseases involving inflammation end with "itis." This explains the name of the condition as being an inflammation of the plantar fascia, thus plantar fasciitis.

Repetitive movements such as walking or running stretch the plantar fascia. Because it is not very flexible, this can cause small tears in the fascia, which leads to inflammation and pain. Other factors such as high arches, fallen arches, or a change in the walking surface contribute to the stress placed on the plantar fascia and heel.

Causes of Plantar Fasciitis

A variety of causes exist for plantar fasciitis. Some of the most common causes include:

  • excessive weight load on the foot due to obesity or prolonged standing
  • mechanical imbalances of the foot
  • osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • sudden increase in body weight (e.g., pregnancy)
  • sudden increase in walking or running
  • tight calf muscles is a very common cause of the disorder
  • wearing shoes with poor support, including flip-flops

Another cause of pain is the shortening of the plantar fascia overnight due to the ankle bending, causing the toes to point towards the ground. The plantar fascia stretches in the morning when you stand. The act of lengthening it causes a great deal of pain. However, this is not limited to an overnight occurrence - it can happen any time the foot is flexed (i.e., pointed) for extended periods of time. For example, driving in the car for long periods can cause fasciitis in the right foot, which steps on the accelerator.





Symptoms and Complications of Plantar Fasciitis

People with this condition sometimes describe the feeling as a hot, sharp sensation in the heel. You usually notice the pain first thing in the morning when you stand. After walking for a period of time, the pain usually lessens or even disappears. However, sharp pain in the center of the heel may return after resting for a period of time and then resuming activity.

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