What Is It?
Plantar fasciitis is a painful inflammation of the plantar fascia, a fibrous band of tissue on the sole of the foot that helps to support the arch. Plantar fasciitis occurs when this band of tissue is overloaded or overstretched. This causes small tears in the fibers of the fascia, especially where the fascia meets the heel bone. Plantar fasciitis is common in obese people and in pregnant women, perhaps because their extra body weight overloads the delicate plantar fascia. It is also more common in people with diabetes, although the exact reason for this is unknown. Plantar fasciitis also can be triggered by physical activities that overstretch the fascia, including sports (volleyball, running, tennis), other exercises (step aerobics, stair climbing), or household exertion (pushing furniture or a large appliance). Worn or poorly constructed shoes can contribute to the problem if they do not provide enough arch support, heel cushion or sole flexibility. In athletes, plantar fasciitis may follow intense training, especially in runners who push themselves too quickly to run longer distances.
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis can occur suddenly or gradually. When they occur suddenly, there is usually intense heel pain on taking the first morning steps, known as first-step pain. This heel pain often subsides as the patient begins to walk around, but it may return in the late afternoon or evening. When symptoms occur gradually, a more long-lasting form of heel pain causes patients to shorten their stride while running or walking. Patients also may shift the weight toward the front of the foot, away from the heel.