What is Plantar Fasciitis?

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fascia ligamentPlantar fasciitis is a recurring pain on or around the foot's heel. The plantar fascia is a thin ligament that runs along the bottom of your foot, stretching between the heel bone to below the toes.

When the plantar fascia becomes strained or torn, the result is swelling and irritation. This can lead to chronic pain in the heel or the bottom of the foot when you stand or walk. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of foot discomfort, with an estimated 2 million people diagnosed yearly.

Signs & Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis


The tell-tale symptom of plantar fasciitis is a dull, stabbing pain on the bottom of your foot around the heel. It typically affects one foot, but occasionally both. The pain can be at its worst in the morning, right when you get out of bed. But it can also flare up after prolonged periods of standing, walking, or when you get up from sitting.

The most common plantar fasciitis symptoms include:

  • Dull to sharp pain, or a bruised sensation, near or on the bottom of your heel
  • Pain in the arch of your foot
  • A swollen heel
  • A tight Achilles tendon, the tendon that connects the calf to the heel
  • Increased pain after walking, running, or other forms of exercise
  • Pain that is worse upon awakening
  • Pain that flares up after prolonged periods of standing or when you get up from sitting

Due to irritated nerves in the foot, pain can shoot up to the ankle. Back pain can also be a side effect, but only as a result of any change in posture you might make to avoid putting weight on the tender parts of your foot.

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?


The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that runs lengthwise from your heel to the top of your foot. It supports the arch of your foot and absorbs the brunt of the shock when walking or jogging. Over time, repeated tension and stress on the plantar fascia can result in small tears and cause plantar fasciitis.

Risk Factors

Risk Factors

Too much stress on the plantar fascia can cause pain and inflammation, but it's sometimes hard to pinpoint what exactly caused the pressure in the first place. 

There are some risk factors known to increase the chances of developing plantar fasciitis, including:

  • Obesity - Extra weight means more stress on your feet
  • Flat feet or high arches 
  • Excessive pronation - Feet that roll inward when walking can stress the ligament
  • Working on your feet - Jobs that require prolonged standing or walking on hard surfaces, such as teachers, dentists, or factory workers
  • Wearing the wrong shoes - Worn-out or ill-fitting footwear that doesn't give proper support
  • Tight calf muscles or Achilles tendons
  • Repetitive running and jumping - Especially for athletes or those new to exercise 
  • Age - People between 40 and 60 years old are more likely to have plantar fasciitis

Whatever the cause of plantar fasciitis, the result is the same. Plantar fasciitis causes pain, ranging from moderate to severe, that can worsen over time.

Get Care

Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Plantar Fasciitis Care

While plantar fasciitis poses no serious health risks, the pain can interfere with your quality of life. The foot and ankle experts at NewYork-Presbyterian are familiar with plantar fasciitis's symptoms and causes. We can deliver a professional diagnosis and treatment options for your plantar fasciitis, so you can get back to walking, jogging, or going about your daily routine without foot pain.

Schedule an appointment with our top-notch specialists today.