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Plantar Fasciitis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

If you have been experiencing intense heel pain, then you are most probably a victim of the condition plantar fasciitis. This condition usually affects the plantar fascia which is a ligament that connects your toes to your heel and the diagnosis includes pain in the morning. The pain occurs when the plantar fascia is strained. Strain tears, weakens or makes the ligament swell leading to pain.

Not all heel pain is plantar fasciitis, however. It is important for you to visit your doctor to have the pain diagnosed and to get proper and correct treatment. Self medicating is not a solution for plantar fasciitis as you may exacerbate the underlying condition.

Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis 

Stiffness that normally begins in the morning, tapers off as the day progresses then gets worse towards evening
Excruciating pain on your heel in the mornings right when you awake
Pain when involved in activities that involve too much walking, standing, or running
Pain as you start an exercise routine, tapers off then returns when you stop exercising
Pain when going up or down a flight of stairs

Causes of Plantar Fasciitis

The exact cause of plantar fasciitis is not known but you are likely to suffer from this condition if you: 

Have really tight calf muscles
Engage in strenuous and excessive body workouts
Are in sports or athletics
Wear ill-fitting shoes that have a bad arch
Have a flat foot
Are overweight
Have a foot injury
Are middle aged

Again as earlier mentioned not all pain in your heel or foot is plantar fasciitis. You must have your pain diagnosed to determine what it is.

Diagnosis of Plantar Fasciitis

Note that your pain and its cause can only be determined by a trained professional. This can be your physician, podiatrist, sports medicine doctor or an orthopaedist. To diagnose whether or not it is plantar fasciitis, your doctor will ask you a couple of questions to get history. They will also carry out a physical exam on you and make you stretch, put pressure on and move about to determine whether the pain source is inflammation of the plantar fascia.

If your doctor recommends that you get an x-ray, it will not be to diagnose plantar fasciitis. An x-ray cannot show your ligaments as clearly as the doctor would need them. However, the x-ray may reveal other compounding problems including excessive pronation, bone spurs, fractures, cysts or any other damages to your feet.

In some cases, an MRI becomes necessary. A scan of the bones around your foot and blood tests can also be helpful in the diagnosis of plantar fasciitis. If your condition has caused a change in blood flow, vascular testing will be done. Sometimes pain in your heel may cause entrapment of your nerves and in such cases neurological exams become necessary.

Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis

The main goals of attempting to treat plantar fasciitis after diagnosis include: 

To relieve your pain
To allow tears in your ligament to heel
To help you resume your regular routine
To allow your foot to regain its flexibility and strength
To correct your gait

Here are a few things you can do to get the relief you need. 

Plenty of rest

You must stop engaging in activities that cause your pain. Also avoid hard surfaces such as concrete as walking or training on such surfaces worsens plantar fasciitis 

Try ice

Ice is a great pain reliever even though it only provides momentary relief. 

Anti-inflammatory drugs

Ibuprofen and other over the counter pain relief medication can help with the pain as you wait to go visit your physician. 

Proper shoes

Wear properly fitting shoes with the right arch. Your shoes should also have a shock absorbing in-sole and orthotic therapy may be recommended. 


Inserts for your shoes can help cushion your feet and provide the right support. Athletics and drug stores stock up on these. Always buy orthotics for both feet even if you only have pain in one heel. 

Extra care

Wear shoes as often as you can even right after bed in the morning. Slippers and bare feet worse heel pain. 


Engage in simple, non-strenuous stretching exercises for plantar fasciitis as recommended by your doctor. These include stretching your toes, towel stretches and calf flexing.

The above treatment methods are largely home remedies that you can do yourself. Your doctor will provide treatment options depending on the extent of your pain and the damage to your feet.

Your doctor may prescribe one of the following 

Night splints
Custom made Orthotics
Physical therapy
Steroid based injections
Surgical interventions

For most plantar fasciitis patients surgery is never necessary because non-invasive remedies suffice. If they do not however, surgery is very effective as a treatment option.





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