Plantar Fasciitis is the swelling and irritation of the tissue on the bottom of the foot known as the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is connective tissue that extends from the heel bone to the toes and is essentially the arch of your foot. Plantar Fasciitis is very painful and has many potential causes and treatments.
How do you know if you have Plantar Fasciitis? One key symptom is pain on the bottom of your feet when you first get out of bed in the morning. Not the typical "I'm old and I ache" pain, but a more sharp "what did I step on" pain. The pain will typically dull as the day goes by unless you are spending a lot of time on your feet. Plantar fasciitis is often misdiagnosed as heel spurs, so it is very important to visit an orthopedic doctor if you have persistent pain in your feet.
How did you get plantar fasciitis? There are many potential causes, but most involve some kind of stress to the bottom of your feet. People with high arches or flat feet are more prone to plantar fasciitis than those with "normal" arches. Wearing worn out shoes can contribute to plantar fasciitis, as well as walking on hard surfaces with bare feet. Standing or walking for long periods of time can stress your feet and inflame the plantar fascia, and simply being overweight can also cause plantar fasciitis. If you watch sports you will hear about professional athletes missing games because of plantar fasciitis, the pounding their feet take, especially in football and basketball are well known causes.
"OK, I can hardly walk, how do I treat this?" The first and most important treatment is to let your feet rest! Try to limit any activities that require you to stand or to do anything that could put extra stress on your feet. If you're able to lie down and put ice on your feet, you'll be able to keep the pain and swelling down to a minimum. You can also take over the counter pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen. Some people believe that plantar fasciitis is related to tightness in the calf muscles so regular stretching of the calf can also provide some relief. In more serious cases, or if you're the starting tight end on an NFL team, you can get a local injection of corticosteroids that can provide relief from the pain, but repeated injections could have huge long-term consequences. The last resort in plantar fasciitis treatment is surgery. There are so many complications that can occur from plantar fascia surgery that it is only done when absolutely necessary.