Is This Me? « Plantar Fasciitis and Plantar Fasicopathy (Heel Pain)

Plantar Fasciitis and Plantar Fasicopathy (Heel Pain)

Is This Me?

Common names:

Plantar fasciitis is technically a name for an acute or sudden, short-term case of a certain type of heel pain, but it often includes or refers to these other conditions as well: plantar fasciosis (chronic or long-term cases), plantar fasciopathy (a general term used both for long-term and sudden, short-term cases) heel pain, heel ligament injury and foot pain.

Signs and symptoms:

The pain of plantar fasciitis usually develops gradually. It is a sharp pain in the bottom of the heel, which is typically worse in the morning when getting out of bed or when getting up after a period of resting or inactivity. Once the foot loosens up, the pain usually gets better. The pain can get worse after a period of intense activity, such as running, or after a long period of standing or walking, especially on a hard surface or when you climb stairs. Another common symptom is that the patient is unable to comfortably bend their foot so that their toes are brought up toward their shin (dorsiflexion). Resting may help alleviate the pain of plantar fasciitis, but upon getting up and bearing weight after a rest period, the pain may be significant. Plantar fasciitis usually occurs in just one foot, but in can occur in both feet at the same time. Women are more likely than men to get plantar fasciitis.

Who gets plantar faciitis?:

Anyone can get plantar fasciitis. Those at higher risk of developing plantar fasciitis are those who:

  • have arch problems, such as a high arch or flat feet;
  • have feet that roll inward excessively as they walk (pronation)
  • are overweight;
  • are pregnant
  • are actively on their feet for long periods, such as those in the military, runners or other athletes;
  • are workers whose job requires long hours on their feet;
  • wear shoes with poor support, including shoes that are old, don’t fit well or those that have thin, soft soles;
  • go barefoot regularly, especially on hard surfaces
  • are middle-aged or older
  • have legs that are different lengths
  • have tight Achilles tendon(s) or calf muscles; and
  • have had trauma to their foot or feet.

What is the plantar fascia?

The plantar fascia is the thick, fibrous band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes. The plantar facsia is like a bowstring, creating the arch of your foot and acting as a shock absorber.

Should I go to the doctor?

Yes. Your primary doctor may refer you to a physician who specializes in problems of the foot or a sports medicine doctor. Your doctor will examine you, ask your history and perhaps order some imaging (X-ray, MRI, ultrasound) or other tests to make sure that your pain is not being caused by another problem, such as a pinched nerve or a fracture. The X-ray may show a heel spur (a small spur of bone projecting forward from the heel bone). Previously, these heel spurs were thought to be the cause of the pain and surgically removed. Today that is not the case. Many people who have heel spurs do not have heel pain, and some with plantar fasciitis do not have heel spurs. It is now widely accepted that heel spurs do not cause plantar fasciitis. Although most cases of plantar fasciitis resolve in a year or less, if it does not resolve, your plantar fasciitis could become a long-term problem. Another important reason to see your doctor is that chronic plantar fasciitis can lead to persistent limping, which can limit your activities and can cause other problems, such as muscle imbalances and stress on other areas of your body.