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Plantar fasciitis is a painful foot condition that is relatively common. It is caused by an inflammation of the plantar fascia, the ligaments connecting the heel bone to the toes. Classic plantar fasciitis symptoms include heel pain when taking your first steps after waking up in the morning, and generalized pain in the soles of the feet.
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include tenderness and pain on the bottom of the foot, making it difficult to walk especially after getting out of bed or after sitting for extended periods of time. The pain usually worsens when you stand on your toes or climb stairs. You may also feel pain after standing for long periods. The pain can be relieved with exercise, but usually returns when the exercise is completed. You may feel a sharp, burning pain in your heel that can be severe. The symptoms may appear after an athletic activity, or develop gradually.
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis often lead to discomfort in weight-bearing on the affected foot, making it difficult to walk. This foot disorder is largely caused by straining the plantar fascia which supports the arch of your foot. Repeated strain causes small tears in the ligament, and it can become inflamed. This can happen if you have flat feet, high arches or tight Achilles tendons and calf muscles.
You can also strain your plantar fascia if you are overweight, walk with your feet rolled inward too much, or walk, stand or run for long periods of time. Patients with this condition often develop heel spurs, a hook of bone that forms on the heel bone and can be seen on x-ray. Initial treatment involves relieving its symptoms. Stretching exercises are found to be very highly effective in easing the pain in the heel and sole.
Different treatments are met with different degrees of success. Giving your feet a rest can relieve the pain. You can also put ice on your heel, or take a pain reliever such as ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin.
Part of the treatment may involve getting a new pair of shoes. Buy shoes with a cushioned sole and good arch support. Shoe inserts or orthotics may also prove helpful. Orthotics should be used in both shoes even if only one foot is affected. Because of the similarity in symptoms, plantar fasciitis may be mistaken for other disorders, such as tarsal tunnel syndrome.
Reiter’s syndrome and ankylosing spondylitis also cause pain in the heels. Your doctor may consider these possible diagnoses if your plantar fasciitis symptoms are not resolved with treatment.