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Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Pain

Updated on June 17, 2013

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis comes about when the band of tissue that supports the arch of your foot, and runs between your heel and your toes, becomes irritated and inflamed.

Sometimes people affiliate bone spurs, which are bone growths in the heel, with plantar fasciitis since the pain is similar. The truth is there is no correlation between bone spurs and inflammation of the plantar fascia.

The diagnosis of plantar fasciitis is usually determined with an examination of the feet and by observing how the patient stands and walks. The doctor will ask you about when and to what degree the pain flares up.

Your physical activity will have to be discussed to try to determine how the condition came about. Sometimes plantar fasciitis occurs after years of small injuries and wear and tear.

There’s no one particular incident that brought about the condition. Plantar fasciitis can come about without any special trigger or it can show up after one incident of strenuous physical activity. Sometimes an MRI or ultrasound may be ordered to verify the diagnosis.

There is no single cure for plantar fasciitis. Whilst many treatments can be used to ease pain, in order to treat it effectively long-term the cause of the condition must be corrected.

Fortunately, the condition can usually be corrected without surgery.

Doctors will try to treat the heel by all medical options available before discussing surgery. It’ll usually takes about 10-12 months to attempt other options but its well worth it if you can avoid an operation. Only about 10% of patients actually have to resort to surgery. And the surgery is not guaranteed to work.

Experiencing this Condition

I am happy to say, I haven’t had a personal experience with this condition. I only heard about it when one of my best friends had one of the worst experiences when she acquired plantar fasciitis. I didn’t realize at that time just how small a percentage of people go through what she experienced. Her case didn't follow the pattern the majority of people experience.

Her problem erupted suddenly after a night of enthusiastic dancing with her husband at the annual Christmas party. That’s unusual. It is usually more of a small problem that accelerates over time.

She also didn’t respond well to treatment. She went through all of the options I have listed here and then some. It was a year of foot pain for her but she was a trooper and tried whatever option her doctor recommended.

She finally was left with no other choice but to have surgery on her foot. And only 10 percent or so of people experiencing plantar fasciitis have to go as far as needing an operation. The foot operation was followed by time out of work, wearing a cast and using crutches, and finally physical therapy. It helped but didn't remove the pain 100%.

I finally got curious, after hearing her trials and tribulations, on what happens when you irritate your plantar fascia. Now that I’ve done the research, I imagine minor twitches and discomfort in my heels. It’s all in my head of course but, the truth is, I’ve been meaning to buy a better pair of walking sneakers. My old ones don’t give me much support when I do my treadmill routine. Now, there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be buying them sooner than later.

You can take steps to avoid this condition. It’s not a guarantee but taking good care of your feet may help to evade ever developing plantar fasciitis.

Mueller Sports Medicine Adjustable Plantar Fasciitis Foot Night Support, Black, Women's Size 6-13, Men's Size 5 - 12
Mueller Sports Medicine Adjustable Plantar Fasciitis Foot Night Support, Black, Women's Size 6-13, Men's Size 5 - 12

Stretch out your plantar fascia while you sleep and avoid the painful first steps you experience in the morning. The mesh material is comfortable and breathable.

Bird and Cronin Night Splint Size: Large, Style: Slip-Resistant Tread
Bird and Cronin Night Splint Size: Large, Style: Slip-Resistant Tread

Easy to put on and off and made with a lightweight shell. Wearing this device can help to stretch the plantar fascia and reduce the pain felt in the arch and heel.

Elgin Archxerciser Foot Exerciser - Original
Elgin Archxerciser Foot Exerciser - Original

This compact and lightweight design is perfect for foot therapy. Helpful in a variety of foot conditions including plantar fasciitis and heel spur syndrome.


A Short Video About Plantar Fasciitis

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

Certain conditions contribute to raising your chances of acquiring plantar fasciitis. If you have more than one of these conditions or scenarios, your chances increase accordingly. Some of these conditions are impossible to control but others you do have the ability to change.

For example, paying attention to the arch in the next pair of shoes you buy. Baby your feet now and you may be able to avoid being that 10 percent of the population that experiences a bout of plantar fasciitis.

A person that has very tight calf muscles tends to have a prolonged pronation of the foot. The causes over stretching of the plantar fascia which can lead to thickening of the tendon and eventually lead to inflammation. As the plantar fascia thickens up it also loses strength and flexibility.

People with an exceptionally low or high arch are more susceptible to acquiring a case of plantar fasciitis. Other foot abnormalities can be detected by a podiatrist.

Wearing shoes with inadequate arch support and cushion can contribute to plantar fasciitis. Excessive walking or running in inadequate footwear can take a toll on the condition of your feet. Buying the right footwear can help prevent negative medical conditions related to your feet. Look for adequate cushion along with good arch support.

Obesity is a physical trait that is bad for the body on many levels. People that are carrying extra weight increase their risks of developing plantar fasciitis. The excessive pounds stress out the joints of the body as well as supporting muscles.

Runners are prone to this type of injury or stress. The pounding on the pavement for long distances can lead to micro-tears that build up over time and can eventually lead to an inflammation of the plantar fascia.



Treating plantar fasciitis begins with the most simple methods available but if they fail to get rid of the inflammation, then a more serious treatment should be tried. These will be recommended by your doctor once he’s diagnosed you with inflammation of the plantar fascia.

Limiting Activity - Rest – Try to stay off your feet for extended periods and take a few days off from any type of lengthy walks or running. If you can, avoid standing for lengthy intervals for a few days also. This can give you some let up on your pain and can begin the process of healing the inflammation.

Icing the Foot – Applying ice to the area can help with the severity of the pain and lessen the symptoms.

Stretching Exercises - Specific stretching exercises can help to relax the problem tissue that surrounds the heel. Exercises and stretches are designed to relax the tissues that surround the heel bone. If you’re willing to do certain stretching exercises a couple times a day, you can often see positive results fairly quickly.

Anti-inflammatory medications can sometimes help to decrease the inflammation and control the pain.

Shoe Inserts – Orthotics – These have been proven to be very helpful for a lot of patients with heel pain. There’s the cheaper ones you can buy in stores which is adequate in some cases. The professional orthotic is the best but these are really pricey and usually aren’t covered by insurance. If you can afford one then I really recommend it.

Night splints are reported to help a lot of people with the healing of the plantar fascia. Although getting used to sleeping with this contraption on your leg may be difficult. The idea is to keep the heel stretched while you’re sleeping. That way the tissue doesn’t contract during the night and the pain should be much less come morning.

If none of these treatments do the trick, cortisone injections could be tried. Some patients get instant relief and go for the maximum injections they are allowed but it can also be the cause of an additional problem. A small percentage of people can experience worse pain after an injection. The injections can cause a rupture of the plantar fascia or can cause atrophy of the heel’s fat pad.

Extracorporeal shock wave therapy, or ESWT, works by inducing tissue repair by your body. This helps some patients but not all and the procedure can be painful. A doctor will usually try this before suggesting surgery but only after the previous treatments have all been attempted.

Surgery – Only about 10 percent of the people that are afflicted with plantar fasciitis actually end up with surgery to resolve the issue. In most cases, the previously mentioned treatments work out. Doctors are reluctant to go as far as surgery. The results are not always positive and it’s possible that the results will be disappointing. Your doctor will explain the chances of success and will fill you in on the reasonable expectations you should have.

Your Personal Experience with Plantar Fasciitis

If you've experienced plantar fasciitis, have any of these treatments helped you?

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Items from Amazon

North American Healthcare Foot Rocker
North American Healthcare Foot Rocker

This exercise accessory makes it easy to get the plantar fascia stretched. It's a rocker designed to position your foot optimally. You can stretch the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of your foot and lower leg using it.



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    • smcopywrite profile image

      smcopywrite 5 years ago from all over the web

      this is absolutely wonderful information on heel pain causes. great hub and nice read. thank you

    Bird and Cronin Night Splint Size: Medium, Style: Slip-Resistant Tread
    Bird and Cronin Night Splint Size: Medium, Style: Slip-Resistant Tread

    This splint is a lightweight shell that helps provide a gentle stretch of the plantar fasica and Achilles tendon. Simple to put on and off. This will help to alleviate pain in the heel area.

    Feetures! Plantar Facsiitis Sleeve - One Sleeve White, Medium
    Feetures! Plantar Facsiitis Sleeve - One Sleeve White, Medium

    This sleeve can provide relief from plantar fasciitis symptoms. The material helps to keep moisture away from the foot area keeping the foot dry and free from odor. It stabilizes the plantar fascia which will help to restore circulation to the area.

    Mueller Sports Medicine Adjustable Plantar Fasciitis Foot Night Support, Black, Women's Size 6-13, Men's Size 5 - 12
    Mueller Sports Medicine Adjustable Plantar Fasciitis Foot Night Support, Black, Women's Size 6-13, Men's Size 5 - 12

    Used while sleeping, this unit gently stretches the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon. The mesh fabric is comfortable and breathable. Stretch out while you sleep to avoid the pain usually experienced when rising in the morning.

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