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.
Swelling occurs when the thick band of tissue on the bottom of the foot (fascia) is overstretched or overused. This can be painful and make walking more difficult.
You are more likely to get plantar fasciitis if you:
Plantar fasciitis is seen in both men and women. 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
The health care provider will perform a physical exam. This may show:
X-rays may be taken to rule out other problems.
Your provider will often recommend these steps first:
You can also apply ice to the painful area. Do this at least twice a day for 10 to 15 minutes, more often in the first couple of days.
If these treatments do not work, your provider may recommend:
Sometimes, foot surgery is needed.
Nonsurgical treatments almost always improve the pain. Treatment can last from several months to 2 years before symptoms get better. Most people feel better with 6 to 18 months. Some people need surgery to relieve the pain.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Contact your provider if you have symptoms of plantar fasciitis.
Making sure your ankle, Achilles tendon, and calf muscles are flexible can help prevent plantar fasciitis. Stretch your plantar fascia in the morning before you get out of bed. Doing activities in moderation can also help.
Abu-Laban RB, Rose NGW. Ankle and foot. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 58.
Ferri FF. Plantar fasciitis. In: Ferri FF ed. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2016. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:970.
Kadakia AR. Heel pain and plantar fasciitis In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 119.
Murphy GA. Disorders of tendons and fascia and adolescent and adult pes planus. In: Canale ST, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2013:chap 82.
Silverstein JA, Moeller JL, Hutchinson MR. Common issues in orthopedics. In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 30.
Review Date: 3/10/2016
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.