What is plantar fasciitis?

This foot condition is very common here in the UK. It affects more women than men and typically affects people of an older age. Plantar fasciitis is a thickening of a long band of tissue that runs underneath the sole of your foot called the plantar fascia. This thickening can be the result of an injury or sudden damage, but most of the time, it’s due to a lot of small injuries or damage over a number of years. As the tissue thickens, it stops stretching as effectively as normal and this will cause you pain. Mostly, the pain will come on in the mornings or after rest, basically, after you haven’t used your feet in a while.

What are the causes?

Just like most foot conditions, there are a lot of factors that can contribute to plantar fasciitis, including:

  • Taking up a new exercise or increasing the intensity of your exercise suddenly
  • Having flat or overly high arches
  • Being overweight
  • Wearing high heels and then changing to flatter shoes
  • Standing for long periods of time
  • Having an uneven leg length or abnormal gait
  • Medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus

Plantar fasciitis is more common in older people and women, although men can get the condition too.

The symptoms of plantar fasciitis

There are often no other symptoms of plantar fasciitis other than pain. This pain can occur in your heel or on the bottom of your foot. It is typically worse in the mornings or after a period of long rest, but will get better as you begin moving around.

When to see your doctor

If you have a pain in the bottom of your foot or in your heel that’s worse in the mornings or after rest, you should go and see your GP or a foot doctor.

The treatments available for plantar fasciitis

Most doctors believe that the first treatment of plantar fasciitis should be simple, non-invasive and conservative. You will most likely be advised to avoid any exercise that makes the pain worse and given one of the following treatment options.

  • Stretching: Exercises that help stretch the cord again can be performed three to five times a day and can be very beneficial.
  • Pain relief: Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs can be used to help with any inflammation and stop pain.
  • Icing: The use of ice packs on your foot can help with inflammation and pain. You can also use an ice block to massage the area before going to bed each night.
  • Wearing a heel pad: A cushioned pad in your shoe can help eliminate the pain from plantar fasciitis if you are on your feet a lot.

The treatments above should only be carried out if you are absolutely sure that you have plantar fasciitis. If you’re unsure, go and see a foot doctor and find out what is causing your pain. If you are still unsure about what is causing your foot pain after reading this article, please read our other foot related articles. We have a large library of blog posts related to common foot conditions that should be of use to you.