Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. It is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a "heel spur". It is not the bone formation that causes the pain but, instead, this condition.
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia ligament (the ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes) tears and becomes inflamed. The plantar fascia is the ligament that forms the arch of your foot. The fascia attaches to the calcaneous (heel bone) and is usually where the pain is located. The most common complaint is a burning, stabbing or aching pain in the heel of the foot.
- Pain gradually develops
- Affects just one foot, but can occur in both feet simultaneously
- Worst with the first few steps after wakening
- Stabbing pain after getting up from a seated position
- Activities that place extra stress on heel such as long distance running or jumping
- Spending most of the day on your feet
- Becoming very active in a short period of time
- Improper shoes – thin soled, loose fitting, lack arch support or the ability to absorb shock and high heels
- Muscular or structural imbalances
- Compensation for pain or dysfunction in another area of the body
- Age – most common between the ages of 40 to 60
- Gender – Women are more likely to develop plantar fasciitis then men
- Foot Mechanics – being flat footed, high arches, or abnormal gait pattern can lead to increase stress on the plantar fascia
- Obesity– extra pounds can put extra stress on your plantar fascia
Physical therapy can help to reduce pain and inflammation through modalities and manual treatments while correcting muscular imbalances through stretching and strengthening exercises. Therapists may also be able to correct any gait or running abnormalities leading to this condition, preventing future recurrences. If you have foot imbalances such as a flat foot, a shoe orthotic that addresses the problem can be additionally effective.