Plantar Fasciitis

What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a long band of fibers that go from your toes to your heel. It helps support your arch and absorbs shock. Plantar fasciitis is caused by repeated tears in the plantar fascia. Over time, these small tears cause inflammation.

What increases my risk for plantar fasciitis?

  • High impact exercise, such as running, dancing, or aerobics

  • Obesity

  • Flat feet or high arches

  • Tight calf muscles and tendons

  • Abnormal walking pattern, such as feet that roll inward or outward

  • A job where you stand on a hard surface for long periods of time

  • Wearing shoes that do not support your feet, such as sandals or shoes that are worn out

What are the signs and symptoms of plantar fasciitis?

  • Pain on the bottom of your foot, especially first thing in the morning

  • Pain with prolonged standing, sitting, or walking

  • A limp

  • Redness, swelling, or warmth over the injured part of your foot

How is plantar fasciitis diagnosed?

Your caregiver will examine your foot and ask about your activities and occupation. He may check the movement of your foot and ankle. You may need an x-ray to check for a fracture or heel spur (bone growth on your heel).

How is plantar fasciitis treated?

  • Taping: Your caregiver may tape your foot. This will help support your foot and decrease stress on your plantar fascia.

  • NSAIDs: These medicines decrease swelling and pain. NSAIDs are available without a doctor's order. Ask your caregiver which medicine is right for you. Ask how much to take and when to take it. Take as directed. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding and kidney problems if not taken correctly.

  • Steroids: This medicine helps decrease inflammation. It may be given as a shot. It may also be put on the skin and an electrical current helps it absorb into the plantar fascia.

  • Surgery: This is only done when other treatments do not work. During surgery, the plantar fascia is separated from your heel.

What are the risks of plantar fasciitis?

You may develop long-term foot pain. This can interfere with your daily activities. The way you walk may change because of the inflammation. This can cause knee, hip, or back problems, such as pain or stiffness. Your plantar fascia may rupture (tear completely).

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Splint: You may need to wear a splint at night to keep your foot stretched while you sleep. This will help prevent sharp pain first thing in the morning. Sharp pain is caused by stress on plantar fascia that shortens and tightens overnight.

  • Orthotics: These are rubber, silicone, or felt pads. They support your heel, arch, or the entire bottom of your foot. They help decrease the stress on your feet.

  • Rest: Rest as much as possible to decrease inflammation and prevent more damage.

  • Activity: Try low-impact exercises, such as swimming or bicycling. Slowly increase your activity as directed.

  • Ice: Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Fill a water bottle with water and freeze it. Roll the water bottle under your foot for 10 minutes in the morning and after work.

  • Massage: Rest your foot on a golf ball on the floor. Roll the golf ball along the length of your foot to massage the muscles. Do this for as long as directed.

  • Gentle exercise: Stand on a rug or carpet. Flex your toes so that they grab the rug or carpet. Do this as often as directed.

  • Physical therapy: You may need to see a physical therapist to teach you special exercises. These exercises help improve movement and decrease pain. Physical therapy can also help improve strength and decrease your risk for loss of function.

How can I help prevent plantar fasciitis?

  • Maintain a healthy weight: This will help decrease the stress on your feet. Ask your caregiver how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.

  • Wear shoes that fit well and support your arch: Replace your shoes before the padding or shock absorption wears out. Avoid walking or standing in bare feet or sandals for long periods of time.

  • Stretch your foot: Pull your toes toward your head. Do this before you get out of bed and when you get up from sitting for a long period of time. Warm up and stretch before and after you exercise.

When should I contact my caregiver?

Contact your caregiver if:

  • Your pain and swelling increase.

  • You develop knee, hip, or back pain.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have severe foot pain.

  • Your foot becomes red, warm, and swollen.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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