The Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
Do your feet hurt as you take those first few steps out of bedin the morning? How about when you try to stand up after sitting down for a while?
Those are the classic symptoms of plantar fasciitis or inflammation of the plantar fascia.
The plantar fascia becomes inflamed if damaged and then you get the pain, swelling and discomfort that go along with it. Knowing the symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis is vital so that you can tackle it early on and prevent further damage.
Where is Your Plantar Fascia and What Does it Do?
Your plantar fascia is the band of tough connective tissue along the sole of your foot. It actually starts at your heel, moves across your sole and branches out to end under each of your toes.
According to WebMD, the plantar fascia’s job is to support the arch of your foot. It also plays a role in creating that arch in the first place. The support it offers allows each section of your landing foot to bear your weight as you walk or run.
Healthline.com further explains that the plantar fascia “functions mainly during heel-rise to toe-off” stabilizing the foot and getting your weight distributed appropriately over your sole. Another one of its primary functions is acting as a shock absorber.
As you walk or run, your feet take turns bearing the entire weight of your body. The stress and strain that this causes on the joints, bones and soft tissues of your feet are multiplied by high impact activities or by being on hard and uneven surfaces.
The plantar fascia helps by cushioning your feet and taking some of the impact pressure off them.
What Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis do Sufferers Normally Experience?
“A stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot near the heel” is one symptom highlighted by the Mayo Clinic on its website. This is, by far, plantar fasciitis’ most common symptom and is worse in the morning and after prolonged periods of sitting or standing.
This is explained by fact that the plantar fascia is springy and becomes elongated during the “contact phase” of your gait. That is, it stretches while your foot is pressing into the ground as you walk.
Periods of inactivity cause the fibers of your plantar fascia to shorten and tighten up. Tighter fibers experience more traction than is normal when you walk and this makes them irritated and sensitive.
Sudden weight-bearing after being inactive shocks the now sensitive plantar fascia tissues causing the characteristic first-step stabbing pain of plantar fasciitis.
One symptom a physician will usually examine you for and use to diagnose plantar fasciitis is “localized tenderness along the sole of the foot, most commonly at the inside arch of the heel”. That’s according to William C. Shiel Jr. (MD).
What are Some of the Other Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
Apart from the pain and tenderness, you may also experience a burning sensation at the bottom of your foot. Some persons describe it as warm and tingly. Conversely, some plantar fasciitis sufferers find that the bottom of their foot feels numb.
There are several other symptoms associated with plantar fasciitis but which may affect some persons more than others. A comprehensive but certainly not exhaustive list is below.
- Your pain worsens when you stand on tiptoes or when you climb stairs.
- You experience the heel pain before and after exercise but it seems to disappear or lessen dramatically during exercise.
- The underside of your heel has mild swelling and may also feel stiff.
- The heel pain may be dull or sharp. At times it may seem to build slowly while intense activity may cause the pain to come on suddenly.
- You have difficulty walking on hard surfaces.
- You feel tightness in your calf muscles.
The symptoms of plantar fasciitis should not be ignored since continued use of the damaged tissues can cause them to rupture. Rupturing of the plantar fascia happens suddenly and is accompanied by acute pain in your sole.
If it’s Not Plantar Fasciitis, Then What Could It Be?
There are several other conditions (some of them quite serious) that may cause symptoms similar to those of plantar fasciitis. For this reason, it is best to consult with your primary healthcare provider so they can rule out these possible causes.
Your foot pain could be due to...
- a pinched or irritated nerve – particularly tarsal tunnel syndrome when the tibial nerve as it passes through the tunnel at your ankle
- faulty foot functioning – can be caused by a foot deformity or from wearing shoes that are either too loose or too tight
- Osteoarthritis – can result from cartilage breakdown in the ankle joint and cause stiffness and pain
- Achilles tendonitis – inflammation of the band of connective tissue between the calf muscle and heel bone
How Can You Get Over Your Plantar Fasciitis?
The symptoms of plantar fasciitis are certainly not pleasant and persons affected by it are in search of relief as quickly as possible.
The good news is that there are several remedies you can try at home to alleviate plantar fasciitis symptoms and possibly prevent them from recurring. There are also simple lifestyle changes you can make to manage the condition.
- If you are overweight, try to find healthy, low-impact ways to a more ideal weight.
- Do not go barefoot - wear cushioned and supportive shoes at all times.
- Practise some simple exercises to loosen up and stretch the plantar fascia.
- Incorporate exercises that will also stretch the Achilles tendon and calf muscles.
- Throw out your old worn shoes. There are shoes specifically designed to give support, and cushioning comfort to the feet of plantar fasciitis sufferers.
- If you have a job that requires you to stand for long periods or on a hard surface then reduce the stress on your feet by standing on a thick rubber mat.
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