What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common conditions causing heel pain. It involves inflammation of the plantar fascia — a tough, fibrous band of tissue that runs along the sole of the foot.1 The plantar fascia plays a vital role in normal foot mechanics and is composed of three segments, all of which arise from the calcaneus. The fascia is essential in supporting the arch and providing shock absorption.2 Over time, tension on the plantar fascia can cause it to lose some of its elasticity or resilience and become irritated.1

Inflammation and pain in the fascia can be caused by:1, 3

  • An increase in activity level
  • The structure or shape of the foot
  • Standing, walking or running on hard surfaces
  • The type of shoes you are wearing, e.g. poor cushioning or support
  • The weight you carry
  • Overstretching the sole of your foot during exercise
  • Most commonly between the ages of 40-60.

Less commonly, plantar fasciitis may develop due to other medical conditions.

Plantar fasciitis typically causes a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot near the heel. Pain is usually most intense when you first walk after waking up but can also be heightened after long periods of standing or when you get up after sitting.4 Common symptoms include heel pain, pain in the arch of your foot, stiffness, swelling around your heel, or a tight Achilles tendon.5

If you think you may have plantar fasciitis, it’s important to contact your GP. They usually won’t need any tests to diagnose plantar fasciitis and will ask about the nature of your heel pain and your general health and physical activity.6

If you see a GP, they’ll usually suggest you try these things:5


  • Rest and raise your foot on a stool when you can
  • Put an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas) in a towel on the painful area for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours
  • Wear shoes with cushioned heels and good arch support
  • Use insoles or heel pads in your shoes
  • Try regular gentle stretching exercises
  • Try exercises that do not put pressure on your feet, such as swimming
  • Take painkillers likeparacetamol and ibuprofen
  • Try to lose weight if you’re overweight

In some cases, doctors may recommend more advanced treatments like corticosteroid injections or shockwave therapy. Surgery is rarely necessary.1

Plantar fasciitis is a common condition that can be frustrating and painful. If you’re experiencing symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor and get an accurate diagnosis. With the right treatment, most people are able to recover from plantar fasciitis and return to their normal activities.

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