Scientific American presents House Call Doctor by Quick & Dirty Tips. Scientific American and Quick & Dirty Tips are both Macmillan companies.

Do you have a job in which you’re on your feet all day? A security guard, perhaps? In construction? Sales? You know your heels bear a lot of your job when they ache by the end of the day. But now, imagine having to walk with a small piece of rock stuck in your shoe at the bottom of your heel. Ouch, ouch, ouch! This is how patients with plantar fasciitis feel.

What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Whether you’re a business owner or a marathon runner, you should know that plantar fasciitis is a very common cause of heel pain. It sends approximately one million adults running (ok, maybe walking…very slowly) to the doctors’ office each year. Patients often describe the condition as a sharp pain underneath the foot near the heel. The pain feels worst in the first few steps they take in the morning or after a period of rest, and tends to improve with activity. It can worsen by the end of the day if patients are on their feet for prolonged periods of time. 

I know what you’re thinking, and no, despite the similarities, plantar fasciitis has nothing to do with Planter’s nuts. The name of the condition comes from the tight band of fibrous tissue, or “fascia,” that runs underneath the foot. This band tightens, causing the pain. That is why the first few steps after a period of rest are the most painful – because that’s when the fascia gets stretched out from a very tight form.

> Continue reading on