Plantar Fasciitis Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of pain in or around the heel. We spoke with orthopedic surgeon Dr. Courtney Grimsrud about plantar fasciitis and the treatment options for patients

Millions of people suffer from the common foot condition known as plantar fasciitis. Hallmarked by its signature symptom of radiating heel pain down to the arch and ball of the foot, plantar fasciitis can disrupt daily life. We discussed the painful condition and how it’s treated with CU Medicine orthopedic surgeon Dr. Courtney Grimsrud, who specializes in foot and ankle injuries. For as much pain as the condition can inflict - especially during the morning when getting out of bed - the treatments are relatively conservative. Dr. Grimsrud explains, “plantar fasciitis is always treated with non-operative strategies first.”

The condition is not limited to one type of person, as anyone who spends time on their feet can be affected. Plantar fasciitis happens when the thick band of tissue on the bottom of the foot, known as the plantar fascia, becomes inflamed or irritated. The plantar fascia is responsible for supporting the arch of the foot. When it becomes irritated, weight bearing can become painful.

What causes plantar fasciitis?

There are many known causes of plantar fasciitis including:

  • Running or walking more than usual
  • The shape of the foot
  • Shoes that are not supportive
  • Being overweight

What are the signs and symptoms of plantar fasciitis?

“Commonly you’ll experience pain on the bottom of your heel with plantar fasciitis. Usually, pain is more prevalent in the morning with your first steps out of bed and can radiate down to the arch and ball of the foot,” explains Dr. Grimsrud.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Pain near or on the bottom of the heel
  • Pain radiates to the arch and ball of the foot
  • Pain in the morning that gets better with movement but returns with excess time spent on feet

How do you treat plantar fasciitis?

Although plantar fasciitis can be quite painful, the first line of treatment is actually very simple - to stretch. According to Dr. Grimsrud, “the most common treatment for those suffering from plantar fasciitis is to really work on stretching out your calf.”

An orthopedic doctor will discuss the importance of stretching to improve symptoms of plantar fasciitis. They will often prescribe specific stretches and/or physical therapy to improve plantar fasciitis. A night brace or splint may also be helpful to keep the calf stretched out while you sleep.

In some cases, anti-inflammatories may be helpful for plantar fasciitis.

Comfortable, supportive shoes are recommended for those suffering from plantar fasciitis. Off-the-shelf or custom orthotics can also help with keeping the arch of the foot supported.

Surgery for plantar fasciitis is discussed when more conservative treatment options fail and the patient is still experiencing pain.

Click here to learn more about CU Medicine’s foot and ankle specialty.



CATEGORIES: Conditions and Diseases, Exercises, Health Education, Orthopedics

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