Plantar fasciitis is a painful foot condition that affects millions of people. It is characterized by inflammation of the plantar fascia. This is the thick band of tissue running along the bottom of the foot. Similar to a ligament, it connects the heel bone to the toes, forming the arch of the foot. When the plantar fascia is overstressed, it can cause severe heel pain. You may also have pain or discomfort along the bottom of your foot. It can become difficult to enjoy daily activities.
If you begin to experience any plantar fasciitis symptoms, it’s important to reach out to a podiatrist. You don’t have to fear getting out of bed each morning, met with sharp, stabbing pain. You can get back on your feet confidently and comfortably with treatment and preventative measures.
Common Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
What plantar fasciitis feels like can vary from person to person. One of the most common plantar fasciitis symptoms is heel pain when first getting out of bed in the morning. Different people may experience these painful symptoms in different ways.
Stabbing Pain in the Bottom of Your Foot
The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis comes after a period of inactivity. This is usually when you get up from bed in the morning. It can also happen after sitting for a long time, like after watching TV or eating a meal. When you get up and take your first steps, you feel a sharp stabbing pain in your foot. The pain usually centers near the heel on the bottom of your foot.
The pain may start to subside as you start walking around. This can provide temporary relief, but the pain can return if you stop moving.
Foot Arch or Heel Pain While Walking
The reverse of the plantar fasciitis symptoms above can also be true. It can be painful to walk and move around too. You may feel pain along the arch of your foot. Heel pain is very common. Some patients report stabbing pain when they use the affected foot. The pain worsens as they put pressure on their heels. Other patients may experience a dull, constant ache in the bottom of their feet. It is less common to have pain during exercise, but it can intensify afterward.
Irritation and Inflammation Around the Heel Bone
Redness, irritation, and swelling are also common plantar fasciitis symptoms. The area in front of the heel bone can become inflamed. The swelling can make it uncomfortable to walk. This is the most common area of the foot affected by this condition.
Foot Stiffness and Tightness in the Achilles Tendon
As the plantar fascia gets irritated, it can become less flexible. You may feel the sensation of stiffness, particularly in the arch of the foot. It can be difficult to use your full range of motion. This can also make it painful to walk. With stiff, inflexible tissue on the bottom of your foot, your Achilles tendon can get tight—they’re all connected.
Tearing of the Plantar Fascia Tissue
When you stretch the plantar fascia beyond its limits, the tissue can tear. Like the other plantar fasciitis symptoms above, this most commonly affects the area in front of the heel bone. Torn tissue can be very painful. The right treatment can help to ensure it heals back correctly. This can also reduce the risk of further injury.
Plantar Fasciitis Causes and Risk Factors
The exact cause of this painful foot condition can vary. But, there are several risk factors that relate to higher incidences of plantar fasciitis.
- Frequent long-distance running
- Related activities like jumping, dancing, and certain sports
- Exercising with tight calves without enough stretching
- Exercising on hard surfaces
- Working on your feet all day
- Repeated stretching and tearing of the plantar fascia
- Wearing shoes with poor support, like flip-flops
- Flat feet or high arches
- Being overweight or obese
- Age (more common between 40 and 60 years old)
Why You Should See a Podiatrist
The most obvious reason to visit a podiatrist for plantar fasciitis is pain relief. Proper treatment can reduce foot and heel pain. Left untreated, patients may have difficulty with daily activities. It can be painful to get out of bed and go about your day. Over time, plantar fasciitis can worsen and lead to other problems. Knee, hip, and back problems are common.
Treatment can alleviate symptoms. Podiatrists can also recommend helpful prevention tips. They can identify risk factors and provide suggestions. Small lifestyle changes can make a world of difference and reduce the risk of redeveloping plantar fasciitis in the future.