Question:

What is plantar fasciitis?

The First Step Is the Worst Step

You may be ready to jump right out of bed in the morning, but your feet might have another idea entirely. If you put your foot down and feel tightness, pulling, or a stabbing pain on the bottom, you may be experiencing symptoms of plantar fasciitis.

The plantar fascia is a thick, fibrous band that lines the bottom of the foot, running from the base of the toes to the heel bone. If that tissue is damaged, overstretched, strained, or inflamed, it will result in morning pain in feet, difficulty tolerating prolonged walking, increased pain when you try to walk after sitting, and discomfort when standing on tiptoes.

Plantar fasciitis can begin with acute ankle and heel pain, particularly when the fascia suffers micro-tearing from a sudden misstep. Typically it is more of a chronic condition that lingers in one or both feet for what seems like an eternity, but it can also come and go. Often, this type of pain lessens as the foot warms up, and returns after a period of inactivity (think sitting in a movie theatre for a couple of hours and then getting up to leave).

Efforts to relieve foot pain of this nature include:

  • Keeping your weight at a healthy level
  • Wearing well-cushioned shoes
  • Modifying your activity
  • Using ice
  • Massaging the foot
  • Gently stretching the bottom of the foot
  • Strengthening your arch
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers

If the problem lingers, your doctor may prescribe NSAID's, physical therapy, or custom orthotics (shoe inserts) to improve the alignment of your foot and take pressure off the area.

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