Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciaitis)

What is Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciitis)?

Plantar fasciitis (pronounced as fash-ee-eye-tus) is an inflammation of the band of muscle (plantar fascia) under the foot that supports the bony foot arch. It is the most common cause of heel pain that can occur in one or both feet.

Plantar fasciitis is caused by strain on the plantar fascia muscle under the foot. The cause could be degenerative or from a previous injury. The condition may occur if the patient wears poor footwear, for example shoes with thin soles or those are not supportive enough. Other causes include:

  • Resuming strenuous activity after a long period of rest
  • Having a short calf muscle
  • Having poor range of motion in the ankle
  • Being middle-aged, who are the most prone to the condition.

The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is  “first step pain”, which is pain that occurs when taking the first step after getting up in the morning. Patients may experience swelling of the foot.

  • Modify activities
  • Stretch the calf muscle
  • Prescribe painkillers or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID)
  • Rest the foot and apply ice (to reduce inflammation)
  • Wear more comfortable and supportive footwear, including an insole (orthotic) to support the arch
  • Surgery is rarely required.

If the pain continues, the doctor may offer steroid injection. Most family physicians can treat plantar fasciitis, but if the pain persists, the patient may be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon for specialist treatment.

Patients with plantar fasciitis should refrain from physical activity during an acute injury. Patients suffering from chronic heel pain can do light exercises in supportive footwear. Daily calf muscle stretching calf muscles daily help high heel wearers relieve the strained muscles.

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