Refers to problems with the plantar fascia, which is a band of tissue, much like a tendon, that starts at your heel and goes along the bottom of your foot. It attaches to each one of the bones that form the ball of your foot. The plantar fascia works like a rubber band between the heel and the ball of your foot to form the arch of your foot.
If the band is short, you’ll have a high arch, and if it’s long, you’ll have a low arch, or what some people call flat feet. A pad of fat in your heel covers the plantar fascia to help absorb the shock of walking. Damage to the plantar fascia can be a cause of heel pain.
As a person gets older, the plantar fascia becomes less like a rubber band and more like a rope that doesn’t stretch very well. The fat pad on the heel becomes thinner and can’t absorb as much of the shock caused by walking. The extra shock damages the plantar fascia and may cause it to swell, tear or bruise. You may notice a bruise or swelling on your heel.
Other risk factors for plantar fasciitis include:
- Overweight and obesity
- Spending most of the day on your feet
- Becoming very active in a short period of time
- Being flat-footed or having a high arch
Treatments include cutting back on excessive running or walking, orthotics, splints, taping, corticosteroid injections, weight loss, stretching exercises, and medications like acetophenamin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Surgery is rarely required.