It is usually felt on the first step out of bed in the morning or when walking again after resting from a walking or running activity. However, plantar fasciitis pain can, if it persists, soon be felt any time you are walking, running or jumping.
Although the pain is mostly felt at the bottom of the heel, it can also radiate down the entire bottom of the foot toward the toes. Plantar fasciitis is not usually associated with numbness or tingling.
Plantar fasciitis is thought to be caused by repetitive stretching of the tight bands of the plantar fascia which result in micro tears in these bands as they extend from the heel. Because these tears usually do not occur from a single traumatic event, an immediate healing reaction is not triggered. A chronic irritation or inflammation process thereby begins which increases with activity. A sudden weight gain may also increase stress to an otherwise normal plantar fascia. Pulling of the tight plantar fascia on the heel bone during activity can result in the formation of a bone spur off the tip of the heel bone, at the origin of the plantar fascia tissue. This bone spur itself is not the cause of pain, but rather the mechanical result of the chronic inflammatory process on the bone caused by the stretching of the tight tissue.
What are treatment options?
Tape the heel and arch. Custom shoe inserts may be needed to support the arch and the heel.
Increase the flexibility of the plantar fascia and calf muscles by doing stretching exercises.
- Massage the plantar fascia by rolling your foot over a round tubelike object with a diameter of 3 to 4 inches. A rolling pin works nicely for this.
- Strengthen the muscles of the foot and ankle that support the arch. One way to do this is to scrunch up a hand towel with your toes or use your toes to pull a towel weighted with a food can across the floor.
- Warm up well before stretching. Cold tissues cannot stretch as effectively. After stretching, ice your heel for 20 to 30 minutes at the point of maximum tenderness to decrease any inflammation that may result from too vigorous a workout.
- Try a night splint. Wearing a splint may lessen the pain of the first step in the morning.