What is plantar fasciitis?

    Plantar fasciitis is swelling of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a band of fibers that connect your heel bone to the front of your foot. It helps support the arch of your foot and absorbs shock. Plantar fasciitis is caused by small tears in the plantar fascia. Over time, the tears cause swelling and irritation.

    What increases my risk for plantar fasciitis?


          High impact exercises such as running

          Activities or sports that involve jumping, such as basketball

          A sudden increase in the intensity of an activity

          Flat feet, high arches, or feet that rotate inward when you walk or run

          Tight calf muscles and tendons

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

          Standing on hard surfaces for long periods of time

    What are the signs and symptoms of plantar fasciitis? 

          Pain on the bottom of your foot near your heel

          Pain that is worse right after you get out of bed or after a long period of rest

          Pain after activity

    How is plantar fasciitis diagnosed?

    Your healthcare provider will examine your foot and ask about your activities. He or she 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?

          Medicines may be given to decrease swelling and pain. Steroids may be injected into your heel to decrease swelling and pain

          Shoe inserts, splints, or tape help support your foot and decrease stress on your plantar fascia. A night splint may help stretch your plantar fascia while you sleep

          Stretches and exercises can help decrease pain and swelling. They can also help strengthen the muscles that support your heel and foot

          Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) is a procedure that uses energy to help decrease swelling and pain

          Surgery is rarely needed to separate the plantar fascia from your heel

    How can I manage my symptoms?

          Wear your splint or shoe inserts as directed. 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. Shoe inserts will help decrease stress on your plantar fascia when you walk or exercise

          Rest as directed. Rest as much as possible to decrease swelling and prevent more damage. Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to your normal activities

          Apply ice on your plantar fascia. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain. Fill a water bottle with water and freeze it. Wrap a towel around the bottle or cover it with a pillow case. Roll the water bottle under your foot for 10 minutes in the morning and after work

          Massage your plantar fascia as directed. This may help decrease swelling and pain. Roll a golf ball under your foot for 10 minutes. Repeat 3 times each day

          Go to physical therapy as directed. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain 

    How can I help prevent plantar fasciitis?

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

          Do low-impact exercises. Low-impact exercises decrease stress on your plantar fascia. Examples include swimming or bicycling

          Start new activities slowly. Increase the intensity and time gradually

          Wear shoes that fit well and support your arch. Replace your shoes before the padding or shock absorption wears out. Do not walk or stand in bare feet or sandals for long periods of time

          Stretch before you exercise. Ask your healthcare provider how to stretch your plantar fascia and calf muscles

    When should I contact my healthcare provider?

          Your pain or swelling suddenly increase

          You develop knee, hip, or back pain

          You have questions or concerns about your condition or care


    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. 

    © 2017 Truven Health Analytics LLC 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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