Definition of Plantar fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is irritation and swelling of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The plantar fascia is a very thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. This band of tissue is what creates the arch of the foot. When the fascia is overstretched or overused, it can become inflamed. When the fascia is inflamed, it can be painful and make walking more difficult.
The most common complaint is pain in the bottom of the heel, which is usually worse in the morning and may improve throughout the day. By the end of the day the pain may be replaced by a dull ache that improves with rest.
Signs and tests
Typical physical exam findings include:
Conservative treatment is almost always successful, given enough time. Treatment can last from several months to 2 years before symptoms get better. Most patients will be better in 9 months.
Nearly all patients will improve within 1 year of beginning nonsurgical therapy, with no long-term problems. Most of the few patients who need surgery get relief from their heel pain.
C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 6/13/2010