The plantar fascia is the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot. It connects the heel bone to the toes and creates the arch of the foot. When this tissue becomes swollen or inflamed, it is called plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the thick band of tissue on the bottom of the foot is overstretched or overused. This may be described as "ball of foot pain" burning or stabbing and make walking more difficult.
You are more likely to get plantar fasciitis if you:
Plantar fasciitis is seen in both men and women. However, it most often affects active men ages 40–70. It is one of the most common orthopedic foot complaints.
Plantar fasciitis was commonly thought to be caused by a heel spur. However, research has found that this is not the case. On X-ray, heel spurs are seen in people with and without plantar fasciitis.
The most common symptom is pain and stiffness in the bottom of the heel. The heel pain may be dull or sharp. The bottom of the foot may also ache or burn.
The pain is often worse:
The pain may develop slowly over time, or come on suddenly after intense activity.
Exams and Tests
A health care provider may look for:
Surgery should always be your last option for plantar fasciitis. Surgery leaves behind a lot of scar tissue that can further complicate things and possibly cause more pain later. An alternative treatment to surgery is massage. As a massage therapist, I have experienced many plantar fasciitis cases and have had great success rates with deep tissue massage, specifically structural physiotherapy massage. This is a set series of sessions focusing on the muscles groups involved in causing the plantar fasciitis.
Your health care provider may also recommend these steps:
Nonsurgical treatments almost always improve the issue. Treatment relief can last from several months to the rest of your life depending on your daily routine. Most patients feel better after the first session.
Making sure your ankle, Achilles tendon, and calf muscles are flexible can help prevent plantar fasciitis. Stretching your plantar fascia in the morning before you get out of bed and during activities will greatly help the fight against plantar fasciitis.
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