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Plantar fasciitis is INFLAMMATION of the FASCIA along the bottom of the foot (plantar surface). Fascia is a thin, tough sheet of connective tissue that covers and connects the muscles, tendons, and other connective tissue structures throughout the body. It becomes irritated and inflamed with overuse. Plantar fasciitis develops with repeated stretching of the plantar fascia such as may occur with extensive walking or prolonged standing on a hard surface such as concrete. People whose jobs require walking on hard surfaces, such as mail carriers and police patrol officers, are particularly vulnerable to plantar fasciitis. Excessive body weight contributes to the stress the plantar fascia experiences, as do overly flat shoes, exacerbating the inflammation.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis and Treatment
The pain of plantar fasciitis is distinctly characteristic; the doctor usually makes the diagnosis on the basis of symptoms. The PAIN begins in the heel and is most significant when returning to the feet after being off of them for a while, such as when first getting out of bed in the morning or after an extended work break. Immediate ice to the area of pain helps suppress the inflammation; NONSTEROIDAL ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DRUGS (NSAIDS) block the inflammatory response and relieve pain. Shoes with cushioned soles and insoles, shock-absorbing floor mats, and shoe orthotics to hold the foot in the best position for the individual are among the methods that reduce the risk for plantar fasciitis. Stretching exercises to loosen the fascia further relieve pressure. Most people recover from an episode of plantar fasciitis within six to eight weeks. With appropriate preventive measures, many people are able to keep symptoms from returning.