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Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fascia is the thick band of tissue on the bottom of the foot that connects the heel bone to the toes and supports the foot’s arch. Plantar fasciitis occurs when this tissue is overstretched or overused and becomes inflamed (swollen and irritated) and painful.

Plantar fasciitis: what you should know

  • Those most likely to get plantar fasciitis include the people with foot arch problems (flat feet or high arches) and long-distance runners. People who are obese or suddenly gain weight, have tight Achilles tendons and calf muscles, or wear shoes with poor arch support are also at greater risk.
  • Plantar fasciitis pain is usually worst in the morning when you take your first steps, after standing or sitting awhile, when climbing stairs and after intense physical activity.
  • To help prevent plantar fasciitis, focus on keeping your ankles, Achilles tendons and calf muscles flexible. And choose footwear, especially athletic shoes, with proper arch support.

How can I get help for plantar fasciitis?

Talk to your doctor or a primary care sports medicine specialist if you have frequent pain, tenderness, stiffness or tightness in the bottom of your foot.

Care for plantar fasciitis at Rush

If a physical exam or X-ray reveals that you have plantar fasciitis, you may be referred to a foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon at Rush. With treatment, most patients feel better within months, although treatment can last up to a few years.

In most cases, nonsurgical treatments and rest will improve the pain, including the following:

  • Physical therapy with stretching instruction
  • Minimal use of steroid shots or injections into the heel (multiple injections could be detrimental)
  • Gel shoe inserts
  • Night splints
  • Orthotic arch supports

Surgery is rarely needed for plantar fasciitis. The orthopedic specialist will discuss all of your options and help figure out the best treatment for you.

Why choose Rush for plantar fasciitis care?

  • Foot and ankle orthopedic surgeons at Rush were among the first in the Midwest to use minimally invasive, ultrasound-guided treatments for plantar fasciitis and other conditions, which minimize recovery times and improve outcomes.
  • The orthopedics program at Rush is consistently ranked among the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
  • As team doctors and consultants for the Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox and other professional and college teams, foot and ankle orthopedic surgeons at Rush treat a full range of foot and ankle injuries — including plantar fasciitis — in athletes.
  • The Orthopedic Building offers one convenient place to go for foot care. You can see an orthopedic specialist, get your imaging tests, have outpatient procedures and go through rehabilitation — all under one roof.

Departments and programs that treat this condition