UW Health's Sports Medicine doctors in Madison, Wisconsin, treat a wide range of common athletic injuries, including plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of tissue in the foot.
What is the plantar fascia?
The plantar fascia is a fibrous tissue that aids in the support of the arch of the foot. It is located on the bottom of the foot and attaches to the heel bone (calcaneus) and then flares outward attaching to the toes. Inflammation or irritation of this tissue is referred to as plantar fasciitis, which is caused by micro-tearing of the fascia from excessive stress at the fascia’s attachment site at the heel.
Plantar fasciitis has a common set of symptoms, including:
- Tenderness on the bottom of the foot, near the inner aspect of the heel
- Pain on the bottom of the foot when first getting out of bed or after prolonged sitting
- Gradual development of heel pain
Plantar fasciitis may be caused by:
- Sudden increases in running, jumping or aerobic activities
- Tight lower leg muscles, especially the calf muscles
- Poor foot biomechanics, including excessive pronation, flat feet and/or high arches
- Improper shoes for specific activities, shoes with poor fit or cushion, and/or shoes with a broken down heel
Plantar fasciitis may be treated by:
- Icing the area of tenderness after activity
- Decreasing the frequency, intensity and duration of running and other activities
- Stretching calf muscles and toe flexors (muscles that curl the toes)
- Massaging calf muscles and toe flexors with a tennis ball
- Strengthening the ankle muscles and toe flexors Trying orthotics, arch supports and/or new shoes
- Consulting with a rehabilitation provider to improve biomechanics, improve flexibility and strength, and consider modalities such as ultrasound, phonophoresis or iontophoresis
- Taking anti-inflammatory medication as prescribed by a physician
- Utilizing a Strassburg sock or night splint while sleeping
- Receiving Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections if conservative treatment is unsuccessful and plantar fasciitis becomes chronic