Most commonly, heel pain is caused by plantar
fasciitis, an inflammation
of the fibrous tissue (plantar fascia) along the
bottom of your foot that connects your heel bone (calcaneus)
to your toes.
The plantar fascia acts like a shock-absorbing
bowstring, supporting the arch in your foot.
However, if tension on that bowstring becomes too
great, minute tears can occur along with
inflammation. The result is a stabbing or burning
pain that's usually worse in the morning because the
fascia tightens (contracts) overnight. Once your
foot limbers up, the pain generally decreases, but
it may return after long periods of standing or
after getting up from a seated position. In severe
instances, your foot may hurt with the slightest
pressure, making walking difficult. Sometimes,
plantar fasciitis is also associated with a growth
(bone spur) that develops from tension on your heel
Plantar fasciitis generally gets better with the
help of simple treatments for the pain and
inflammation. It may take a year or more for the
condition to clear completely, but about 90 percent
of people with plantar fasciitis improve after two
months of initial treatment.
Signs and symptoms
fasciitis usually develops gradually, but it can come on suddenly and be
severe. Although plantar fasciitis can affect both feet, it usually
occurs in only one foot. Watch for:
A sharp pain
in the inside part of the bottom of your heel, when you put weight
on it, described by some as a knife sticking in the bottom of your
pain that tends to be worse with the first few steps after
awakening, when climbing stairs or when standing on tiptoe
after long periods of standing or after getting up from a seated
after, but not usually during, exercise
causes of plantar fasciitis can be:
Plantar fasciitis is common among long-distance runners. However,
jogging, walking or stair climbing also can place too much stress on
your heel bone and the soft tissue attached to it, especially as
part of an aggressive new training regimen. Even household exertion,
such as moving furniture or large appliances, can trigger the pain.
Some types of arthritis can cause inflammation in the tendons in the
bottom of your foot.
Although doctors don't know why, plantar fasciitis occurs more often
in people with diabetes.
Being flat-footed, having a high arch or even having an abnormal
pattern of walking can adversely affect the way weight is
distributed when you're on your feet, putting added stress on the
Shoes that are thin-soled, overly loose, or lack arch support or the
ability to absorb shock don't protect your feet. If you regularly
wear shoes with high heels, your Achilles tendon — which is attached
to your heel — can contract and shorten, causing strain on the
tissue around your heel.
of developing plantar fasciitis increases if you are:
walkers and step aerobics enthusiasts are more prone to heel pain
because of added stress on their heel bone and attached tissue.
More women tend to suffer from plantar fasciitis, as a result of
wearing higher heels.
or have high arches.
flatfeet may have poor shock absorption, which increases the stretch
and strain on the plantar fascia. People with highly arched feet
have tighter plantar tissue, which also leads to poor shock
tends to be more common with aging as the arch of your foot begins
to sag, putting stress on the plantar fascia.
Carrying around extra pounds can break down the fatty tissue under
the heel bone and cause heel pain.
The weight gain and swelling that accompany pregnancy can cause
ligaments in your body — including your feet — to relax. This can
lead to mechanical problems and inflammatory conditions.
the workday on your feet.
occupations that require a lot of walking or standing on hard
surfaces, including factory workers, teachers and waitresses, can
damage their plantar fascia.
shoes with poor arch support or stiff soles.
A closet of
poorly designed pumps, loafers and boots can mean plantar problems.
Plantar fasciitis >
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judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and
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