Plantar Fasciitis: Signs and Symptoms, Risk Factors, and Helpful Tips

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common foot disorders treated by health care providers. Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the dense, fibrous connective tissue (plantar fascia) that extends along the plantar surface of your foot due to repetitive strain. This condition is best described as pain on the bottom of your heel or mid-portion of the foot. The peak population of people seeking treatment for this diagnosis is between 40 and 60 years old. Here is a quick overview of signs and symptoms, predisposing factors, and helpful tips for managing this condition.

Signs and Symptoms:
• Classic symptom: severe pain on the plantar surface (bottom) of your foot with your first few steps in the morning.
• Increased pain in the bottom of your heel with first few steps after a period of inactivity.
• Pain may decrease with increasing activity (walking), but worsens at the end of the day.
• Tenderness when pushing on the bottom of your heel or mid-foot.
• Antalgic gait (limp with walking)
• Pain with pulling your big toe up.

Risk Factors:
• Sports or occupations that require prolonged weight bearing (being on your feet a lot.)
• Weight bearing activity on hard surfaces.
• Overtraining
• Poor foot posture (both flat feet and excessively high arches)
• Muscle and flexibility imbalances.
• Inappropriate footwear.
• Increasing age.

Helpful Tips:
• Rest (activity modification).
• Ice 2-3 times a day for 15-20 minutes (try rolling a frozen water bottle or frozen golf ball under your foot).
• Massage the tender areas.
• Over the counter or custom foot orthoses (arch supports, heel pads, etc.)
• Stretch your plantar fascia (Pull your toes back towards your shin until a stretch is felt.)
• Stretch your calves.
• Wear supportive shoes (Go to a running store and have them fit you with an appropriate shoe for your foot type).

If symptoms persist after 4 weeks, contact your physician or physical therapist for consultation.
Patient education provided by Carli Heft, PT, DPT with Harlan County Health System Rehabilitation Department, Alma, NE