Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It involves inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of each foot and connects the heel bone to the toes (plantar fascia).
Plantar fasciitis typically causes a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot near the heel. The pain is usually the worst with the first few steps after awakening, although it can also be triggered by long periods of standing or when you get up from sitting.
Plantar fasciitis commonly causes stabbing pain that usually occurs with your first steps in the morning. As you get up and move, the pain normally decreases, but it might return after long periods of standing or when you stand up after sitting.
The plantar fascia is a band of tissue (fascia) that connects your heel bone to the base of your toes. It supports the arch of the foot and absorbs shock when walking. Tension and stress on the fascia can cause small tears. Repeated stretching and tearing of the facia can irritate or inflame it, although the cause remains unclear in many cases of plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is diagnosed based on your medical history and physical examination. During the exam, your health care provider will check for areas of tenderness in your foot. The location of your pain can help determine its cause.
Physical therapy or using special devices might relieve symptoms:
- Orthotics: Your health care provider might prescribe off-the-shelf or custom-fitted arch supports (orthotics) to distribute the pressure on your feet more evenly.
- Physical therapy: A physical therapist can show you exercises to stretch the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon and to strengthen lower leg muscles. A therapist might also teach you to apply athletic taping to support the bottom of your foot.
- Walking boot, canes or crutches: Your health care provider might recommend one of these for a brief period either to keep you from moving your foot or to keep you from placing your full weight on your foot.