Understanding Your Anatomy: The Role of the Plantar Fascia
The plantar fascia does much more than connect the heel bone and toes. Located directly beneath the skin on the bottom of the foot, this stretchy, rubber band-like ligament plays a vital role in foot biomechanics. The plantar fascia not only supports the arch of the foot, it also helps absorbs shock when you walk, run, or jump.
Plantar Fasciitis: Causes, Risk Factors, and Symptoms
Whether you're on your feet all day for work or simply enjoy an active lifestyle, your plantar fascia can be subject to considerable tension and stress. This can lead to micro tears in the tissue. Too much pressure—as well as repeated stretching and tearing—can irritate, inflame, damage, or further tear the fascia, resulting in plantar fasciitis. As a result, plantar fasciitis is primarily considered an overuse or repetitive stress injury. However, in some cases, plantar fasciitis may have no obvious or discernible cause.
Risk Factors for Plantar Fasciitis
While anyone can develop plantar fasciitis, some people are more at risk for the condition. Common risk factors include:
- Age. This podiatric problem is most frequently diagnosed in people between the ages of 40 and 60.
- Some exercises. Running, dancing, jumping, and other activities that place significant stress on the heel and plantar fascia may trigger plantar fasciitis. Exercising on hard surfaces or without stretching your calves may also contribute.
- Foot biomechanics. High arches, flat feet, or an abnormal gait can place added stress on the plantar fascia.
- Certain occupations. Teachers, retail workers, and others who stand for prolonged periods of time and often on hard surfaces are particularly prone to developing plantar fasciitis.
- Improper footwear. Wearing shoes that fit poorly or don't support your feet may irritate the fascia, making plantar fasciitis more likely.
Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms
- Dull or stabbing pain on the bottom of the heel (or near the heel)
- Pain that is worse in the morning (or when you resume activity after sitting for prolonged periods), but improves with mild activity
- Pain that's more severe after exercise
- Pain in the arch of the affected foot
- Tight Achilles tendon (the tendon that connects the calf muscles to the heel)
- Swollen heel
Getting Back on Your Feet
Plantar fasciitis often improves with conservative care, such as icing, stretching, and modifying your activities. Other conservative treatment options include physical therapy; using a walking boot, cane, or crutches; and wearing custom orthotics in your shoes. Our exceptional Roanoke podiatrists may also recommend advanced treatments, such as platelet-rich plasma injections (made by concentrating your blood's own healing properties), shockwave therapy, and ultrasonic tissue repair. Of course, when other treatments fail to provide the designed results, surgery may be indicated. However, it's always the last option. Ready to find out what we can do for your feet?
Schedule an Appointment
Plantar fasciitis pain making every step miserable? Let Shenandoah Podiatry's highly-skilled podiatrists help you get to the bottom of your foot or heel pain and get back on your feet. Complete our online contact form or call our office at 540-904-1458 to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists: Dr. Jennifer Keller, Dr. Natalie Allen, or Dr. Marissa Icardi. Have questions about other podiatric issues and treatments? Browse our FAQs.