Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar means "Bottom of Foot", Fasciitis means "Inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament"

Plantar Fasciitis is a serious, painful, and progressing illness that occurs when the long, flat ligament along the bottom of the foot develops tears and inflammation. Serious cases of plantar fasciitis can possibly lead to ruptures in the ligament. This ligament is called the plantar fascia and it extends your five toes and runs along the bottom of your foot, attaching to your heel. When you walk or run, you land on your heel and raise yourself on your toes as you shift your weight to your other foot, causing all your weight to be held up by your plantar fascia. Such repetitive force can pull the fascia from its attachment on your heel and cause damage and plantar fasciitis.

The primary component that is affected by plantar fasciitis is the plantar fascia ligament. The plantar fascia is a thick, fibrous band of tissue that is both strong and elastic. Ligaments such as the fascia hold bones together. The plantar fascia attaches to the calcaneous, which is the heel bone, covers nearly the entire length of the foot and reattaches at the toes. The job of this structure is to maintain the curve of the arch of the foot during movement. Another structure that can influence plantar fasciitis is the Achilles tendon. This strong cord of tissue connects muscles in the calf to the heel bone and assists movement. Sometimes, a tight Achilles tendon can lead to plantar fasciitis by distributing additional tension on the fascia. This can often occur among athletes who do not stretch properly prior to exercise.

Inflammation caused by plantar fasciitis occurs as a result of tissue damage and it is the body's attempt to protect the area. Swelling and pain are often factors of this process. When a person walks, the plantar fascia ligament stretches as the foot hits the ground. The fascia is designed to support a specific amount of weight or load. When the ligament is forced to stretch excessively or abnormally, particularly in a repetitive activity or through extreme weight, damage to the fascia tissue is likely to occur.

Pain from plantar fasciitis can sometimes cause more than just discomfort. It can often significantly impact daily activities since any weight placed on the affected area can deliver serious pain which can prevent you from doing daily activities and exercise. Plantar fasciitis causes an aching pain that can be localized in the heel, but also radiate throughout the foot. In most cases, pain is most noticeable and serious in the morning when getting out of bed, or after standing up after prolonged sitting. This is because pain in the inflamed area subsides after the plantar fascia relaxes. When weight is first placed on the heel again after long periods of rest the pain is most severe. Pain tends to lessen somewhat during movement, but can return again later on in the day.

Discomfort and pain caused by plantar fasciitis can sometimes cause a negative chain reaction. Sometimes plantar fasciitis sufferers tend to deal with the pain by adjusting their weight during movement, placing additional weight in other areas of the foot, causing a change in the way their foot hits the ground. This change in gait (the way the foot hits the ground) is a serious side-effect of plantar fasciitis and can be the catalyst for other serious and painful conditions in the foot as well as in other regions of the body. An extremely abnormal gait can create serious problems because it changes the mechanics of the body during movement and this malfunction can cause further wear and tear and pain in the foot, knee, or hips.

Many factors can cause plantar fasciitis to develop. When walking with a normal step, the plantar fascia ligament stretches as the foot strikes the ground. When walking with an abnormal step, or when putting repetitive pressure on the heel, the plantar fascia ligament can stretch irregularly, become stressed, and develop small tears. These small tears can cause the fascia ligament to become inflamed (plantar fasciitis) and also lead to serious pain. Read on to discover in depth information about plantar fasciitis, use our navigation menu above to discover more information on plantar fasciitis.

There are many factors that can lead to an occurrence of plantar fasciitis. Although plantar fasciitis can influence mechanical malfunctions of the foot during movement, as already mentioned, these malfunctions can also cause plantar fasciitis. Having flat feet, for example, is a common condition where the arch of the foot drops. The result is abnormal wear and tear on the plantar fascia that can lead to a damaged fascia. Pronation, high arches, and a tight Achilles tendon are also biomechanical factors that can add stress and pull the plantar fascia too much, causing tears in the tissue.

The pain from plantar fasciitis is described as being dull aching or sharp and can usually be reproduced by flexing the toes upwards (dorsiflexion) and tensing the fascia. Plantar fasciitis tends to worsen after standing or exercising for prolonged periods or after getting out of bed in the morning. Morning heel pain from plantar fasciitis is one of the most common symptoms and occurs because the fascia becomes tense after a protracted rest. As the person walks, the fascia "warms up" and lengthens slightly, reducing the tension on the ligament and lessening pain.

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

The repetitive stress of certain conditions or activities commonly leads to plantar fasciitis. Among those conditions that may cause plantar fasciitis to flare up:

  • Biomechanical factors, such as abnormal inward twisting of the foot (pronation), high arches, flat feet, or tight tendons along the back of the heel (Achilles tendons).
  • Excessive pronation has been found in about 85% of those who suffer from plantar fasciitis. Prontion can be responsible for added tension in the plantar fascia as the arch lowers during standing or walking.
  • Repetitive pressure on the feet, such as from jobs or activities that require prolonged walking or standing on hard or irregular surfaces. Running and exercise can also lead to wear and tear on the plantar fascia.
  • Aggravating factors, such as being overweight or having poorly cushioned shoes.
  • Natural process of aging which may cause tissue in the heels to weaken over time and/or promote wear and tear.

In rare cases, a single, traumatic injury to the foot such as from a motor vehicle accident can cause the onset of plantar fasciitis.