The plantar fascia is the ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes. When this ligament becomes inflamed due to strains on your foot, it can cause stabbing pain in your heel and sometimes arches. This is the condition known as plantar fasciitis, which is one of the most common causes of heel pain.
Plantar fasciitis typically causes stabbing pain in the foot, which is usually worst with the first steps of the morning. Moving about on your feet will normally decrease the pain, but it can return after long periods of standing or resting.
While plantar fasciitis can occur after overexertion of the foot, which can lead to small tears in the plantar fascia that eventually become inflamed, it isn’t always clear what causes the condition.
If you think you might have plantar fasciitis, you should not simply ignore the pain—in addition to the discomfort, plantar fasciitis can also cause you to alter the way you walk in ways that, over time, may lead to complications in your feet, knees, hips, or back. Treatment for plantar fasciitis is usually quite simple, and can include: physical therapy, orthotics, or night splints.
In more severe cases, your podiatrist might recommend injections, extracorporeal shock wave therapy (which uses sound waves to stimulate healing), the Tenex procedure (a minimally invasive procedure to remove scar tissue from the foot without surgery), or, in rare cases, surgery. To reduce the pain of plantar fasciitis, it is useful to maintain a healthy weight, wear supportive shoes that are in good condition, take a break from the sport or exercise which puts stress on your feet, and apply cold packs to the area of pain for about 20 minutes 3 or 4 times a day.