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Signs and Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis

The symptom of plantar fasciitis that usually takes the patient to their doctor is the pain. This pain may be described as sharp or just a tender spot, felt in the heel area of the sole of the foot. Pain in the sole of the foot can also be caused by several different conditions and so the doctor will ask you about other plantar fasciitis symptoms and signs to reach an accurate diagnosis.

The pain of plantar fasciitis is felt when walking, standing or after physical activity or sport. It is typically most severe first thing in the morning, when taking the first few steps after waking up; many patients describing this as 'like walking on broken glass'. Some people also feel this type of sharp pain when they stand up after prolonged periods of sitting or during the night when resting. The pain can also be throbbing or aching when sitting or lying.

The symptom of pain usually develops gradually over a few weeks, starting out as a tender spot on the sole of the foot, at the back of the arch, and is often mistaken for a stone bruise. Commonly only one foot is affected although it is possible for both feet to develop the condition at the same time.

The severity of the symptoms of plantar fasciitis varies between patients with factors like weight, age, work requirements, types of activity carried out and amount of exercise making the difference. Whatever the reason for the onset, it is a problem with the weight bearing functionality of the feet.

There are three stages of progression of the symptoms, starting with the initial dull pain or 'stone bruise' tenderness in the heel. If this isn't severe enough to cause any change in lifestyle and activity levels, the pain intensifies over a 2 to 4 week period. The sharp pain, when taking those first few steps after getting out of bed, is felt and if this continues will probably be enough to seek medical advice.

If treatment of the early stage is not successful or no change is made to lifestyle or exercise regimes, the pain intensifies and tends to continue for longer periods, often all day. After months of this extensive pain, usually meaning that work and exercise have to be curtailed, more aggressive forms of treatment may be considered.

The final stage of the progression of the plantar fasciitis symptoms is often the development of the same condition in the other foot. This is brought about because the patient has been limping, or favoring the affected foot, in an effort to reduce the impact of the painful foot on the ground. This tends to strain and stress the 'good' foot as well. There can also be secondary pain felt in the hip, knee and lower back because of poor posture and incorrect alignment of the feet when standing and walking.

The signs and symptoms of plantar fasciitis can remain for a period of 2 to 5 years, during which time the body learns to adapt. Many changes in lifestyle are often necessary so that the patient can cope with living with the condition. It appears as though some people have an inherent weakness in the feet and the condition will invariably return throughout their lifetime.


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