Plantar fasciitis is a condition associated with pain and stiffness in the bottom of the foot, often focused in and around the heel area. It occurs when the strong band of tissue called the plantar fascia becomes inflamed, irritated or injured. The plantar fascia extends from the heel all the way to the ball of the foot just below the toes, and it serves to provide support and flexibility to the central or midsection of the foot called the arch. The plantar fascia can become damaged as a result of injury from an accident or from repetitive impact sports, like running. Most commonly, the condition occurs as a result of age-related changes or in people who are carrying a lot of extra body weight and whose feet irritated and inflamed by the added stress placed on them. It is more common for individuals who spend extended periods standing all day.
Plantar fasciitis is associated with pain and stiffness in the bottoms of the feet and the heels, sometimes accompanied by numbness or burning sensations. Symptoms tend to be worse after an extended period of inactivity, like when waking up in the morning or after a long time seated at a desk or in a car. After moving around, symptoms may resolve once the tissues “warm up” and stiffness temporarily resolves, but the pain will return after another period of being sedentary.
Plantar fasciitis is often treated with gentle stretching techniques using a special brace or splint, and with pain medications or injections of corticosteroids to reduce pain and inflammation. Custom orthotics can be used to provide support for the plantar fascia for long-term relief. In a few cases, surgery may be needed to remove a calcified deposit called a heel spur or to reposition the plantar fascia where it attaches to the heel.
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