Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis (and What to Do About It)

Have you been experiencing a constant stabbing pain near your heel? You might be experiencing symptoms related to plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis, also known as policeman’s heel, is described as feeling a large source of pain that originates at the heel.

This condition derives from the inflammation in the plantar fascia, which is a thick band of connective tissue beginning at the heel and extending through the ball of the foot. Some of the most common causes of this condition include:

  • Excessive use of the foot while standing or walking
  • Heels spurs
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity

The plantar fascia is commonly torn or overstretched in one of two circumstances:

  • Hypersupination, which is a condition where body weight is placed on the outside of the foot as a result of running or walking.
  • Hyperpronation, which is a condition where the ankle bone has turned inward while the rest of the foot has turned outward. This is caused by too much bodyweight being placed on the inside of the foot.

Plantar fasciitis is a serious condition that can cause uncomfortable pain in one’s everyday life. In order to properly care for this condition, it’s important to be able to recognize the symptoms. Keep reading to discover nine of the most common symptoms of plantar fasciitis!

1. Constant Discomfort

Plantar fasciitis is a condition that develops gradually. At first, the patient will experience heel or arch discomfort in their foot while walking or running. If the pain is targeted towards the bottom of the foot between the toes and the heel, it is normally an indication that plantar fasciitis exists.

What Does This Pain Feel Like?

More often than not, the pain caused by this condition is described as a tender, sore sensation. When stress and pressure are placed upon the arch of the foot, pain increases. If the patient has a mild case of plantar fasciitis, stretching exercises may decrease the pain because it warms up foot muscles.

While it’s evident that this condition causes a lot of pain, is there a specific time of day that the pain gets worse?

2. Morning Pain

Plantar fasciitis flares up in the morning and is typically experienced as severe pain in one foot. This is another early warning sign of the condition that should not be ignored. This pain can be described as:

  • Pain radiating into the heel and running along the bottom of the foot.
  • Decreasing as the day goes on.
  • Flareups after sedentary activity.

In an effort to combat this morning pain symptom, patients are encouraged to:

  • Engage in exercises designed to stretch the area before going to bed at night.
  • Stretch right after waking up in the morning.
  • Orthopedic devices may also be recommended if this condition persists.

Although most of the pain from this condition is usually felt in one’s foot, there are other places the pain can travel to as well…

3. Calf Tightness and Tendon Tightness

Calf Tightness

Plantar fasciitis is almost always associated with tight calf muscles. In turn, the inability to flex the foot becomes difficult, which results in pain aggravation and discomfort.

Tightness in the calf can be soothed by:

  • Practicing proper stretching.
  • Engaging in physical activity.
  • Leading a healthier lifestyle.
  • Choosing to eat nutrient-dense foods.

Tendon Tightness

Tightness in the tendons results from Plantar fasciitis in that dorsiflexion (lifting the toes toward the area of the shin) results in pain, causes a decrease in dorsiflexion. Patients who experience a stabbing sensation in the underside of the foot following a workout may be suffering from Plantar fasciitis.

This may be due to an increase in exercise intensity, or the alteration of workout routine with the use of improper running shoes. Improper running shoes may not have enough support for the foot. If this is the case, you may need to place inserts into the shoes, make use of orthopedic devices, or change your shoes altogether.

We know that pain in the feet and calves are common symptoms of plantar fasciitis, but what other physical symptoms come with this condition?

4. Change in the Length of Leg

It is common that most people have one leg that is slightly longer than the other. Generally speaking, it does not have much of an impact on walking nor does it have any impact on growth. It may, however, cause a person to become more prone to the development of plantar fasciitis.

How Does Leg Length Contribute to Plantar Fasciitis?

When one limb is even slightly longer than the other, more stress and pressure is placed on the longer limb. This results in foot tissues then becoming irritated, resulting in the early development of plantar fasciitis. The limb that is longer is under constant stress, contributing to unilateral foot pain.

What other physical changes occur with plantar fasciitis?

5. Unusual Walking Patterns

Plantar fasciitis can be brought on when any individual walks with their heel down firmly upon the ground. This is commonly seen in military soldiers that walk rapidly and place too much pressure upon the heel.

Long distance runners are also prone to this condition because unilateral foot pain is brought on by an improper gate. In order to reduce this symptom, try taking shorter steps or landing more on the foot as opposed to the heel. This will reduce the possibility that this condition increases.

This next symptom may be one of the more painful effects of plantar fasciitis that one can experience…

6. Foot Tingling or Burning

Plantar Fasciitis is the leading cause of burning heel pain. Although this can be mildly uncomfortable at first, this symptom can become chronic if left untreated. Patients typically suffer from a tingling or burning sensation in the foot because a nerve is being squeezed due to inflammation of the plantar fascia that connects the toes to the heel bone.

This next symptom usually goes hand-in-hand with foot tingling or burning…

7. Heel Swelling

The swelling of the heel is associated with inflammation in the plantar fascia in one or both feet. Inflammation leads to swelling in all cases and in plantar fasciitis, the inflammation is present in the heel. If the patient stands too often or run and walk long distances, the swelling will increase. Heel swelling occurs when the inflammation of the plantar fasciitis becomes repetitive and chronic.

In any case of heel swelling, it’s likely that your shoes will begin to fit a little tighter than usual. In regards to plantar fasciitis, the results are typically the same…

8. Poorly Fitting Shoes

Shoes that do not provide sufficient support for the arches or that fit badly can cause plantar fasciitis. However, this condition can also make shoes that are typically comfortable feel uncomfortable. Many patients noticed that the insole in one shoe wears out faster than any other.

When living with this painful, uncomfortable condition, one can expect normal actions such as walking can be greatly affected…

9. Limping and Walking on Toes

Patients who attempt to avoid placing all of their weight onto their heel often end up shifting their weight. In turn, this alters their gait and develops into a limp. Similarly, some patients walk completely on their toes to avoid placing any pressure on their heels. The problem with this approach is that it further tightens the calf muscle, which pulls on the plantar fascia and heel.

But while these symptoms are painful, there are several treatment options to remedy these pains…

Final Thoughts

If you are experiencing consistent pain in either of your feet (especially in the morning), along with associated tightness in your calves and Achilles tendons, you may be suffering from plantar fasciitis. Ice the affected area and stretch your calves as indicated above in an effort to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. If these initial methods do not work, visit your treating physician for a full examination.

What Should I Do Next?

Plantar fasciitis is a painful but treatable condition, and it is recommended that you follow the direction of your treating physician and also schedule an appointment with your podiatrist.

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