The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue attached to the heel bone. It supports the arch of the foot. Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia.
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Plantar fasciitis is caused by small, repetitive trauma to the plantar fascia. This trauma can be due to activity that puts extra stress on the foot.
Plantar fasciitis is most common in people who are 40-60 years old. Other risk factors that increase your chance of getting plantar fasciitis include:
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis may start gradually or happen suddenly. They include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A foot exam will be done. This will usually make the diagnosis.
Imaging studies of the foot may be done to help rule out stress fractures or other bone abnormalities. These include:
Talk to your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:
Your foot will need time to heal. Supportive care may include:
Stretches to lengthen the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia may be advised when pain has lessened.
Over-the-counter or prescription pain medication may be advised. Steroid injections may also be used in some cases if other treatments do not provide relief.
A physical therapist will assess the foot. An exercise program will be created to help recovery. Therapy may include manual therapy techniques of joint mobilization and soft tissue mobilization to reduce pain and improve function.
A special type of sound wave called extracorporeal shock wave may also be considered in certain cases. This treatment happens under the care of your doctor. At this time, this is generally a treatment for long-term cases that do not respond to other treatments. Massage therapy or acupuncture may also be effective for long-term cases.
In a few cases, basic treatments don't help. Surgery may be performed to cut the tight, swollen fascia.
To reduce your risk of getting plantar fasciitis take these steps:
American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Ontario Podiatric Medical Association
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6/5/2009 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116406/Plantar-fasciitis: Baldassin V, Gomes CR, et al. Effectiveness of prefabricated and customized foot orthoses made from low-cost foam for noncomplicated plantar fasciitis: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2009;90:701-706.
4/24/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116406/Plantar-fasciitis: Wise JN, Weissman BN, et al. American College of Radiology (ACR) Appropriateness Criteria for chronic foot pain. Available at: http://www.acr.org/~/media/ACR/Documents/AppCriteria/Diagnostic/ChronicFootPain.pdf. Updated 2013. Accessed March 2, 2015.
Last reviewed February 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT, GCS Last Updated: 7/17/2017