A condition that occurs when there is a chronic inflammation of a large band of tissue on the bottom of your foot is called the plantar fascia. Because this fascia is on the bottom of your foot, doctors call this area the plantar surface, meaning the sole of the foot in Latin. The purpose of this ligament is to help support the arch of your foot.
When this fascia becomes inflamed, doctors add the ending “itis,” thus, the term plantar fasciitis. Sometimes, on x-rays, a heel spur is seen – however, it is not the cause of your pain – numerous scientific studies have shown that the plantar fascia is the primary source of pain (i.e., don’t let anyone talk you into surgery to remove the heel spur). The cause of this condition is not fully understood, but it is more commonly found in females and overweight people. When both feet are involved, this is sometimes associated with a certain type of arthritis, which can be evaluated with your doctor’s simple exam and tests. This problem can often be caused by a heel cord (Achilles tendon) that is too tight.
The pain occurs on the bottom of your heel, more towards the inside usually (“medial”). It hurts to take a step or walk. Most patients report that the pain is worst when getting out of bed in the morning. The pain usually gets better after walking around for a while. The reason the pain is worst in the morning is that the plantar fascia has had the chance to contract (shorten, tense up) all night long while you were sleeping. The pain can be described as a sharp pain (like stepping on a pebble) or a dull aching/throbbing pain.
Plantar fasciitis is very common, but luckily is easy to treat without surgery!