How Does a Doctor Diagnose Plantar Fasciitis

Aug 30, 2023By Donald Harrison DPM
Donald

Plantar fasciitis is a common condition that causes pain in the heel and bottom of the foot. It is caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. If you are experiencing pain in your foot, you may be wondering how a doctor diagnoses plantar fasciitis.

Physical Examination

The first step in diagnosing plantar fasciitis is a physical examination. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. They will also examine your foot and look for signs of inflammation, such as redness and swelling. Your doctor may also ask you to stand and walk to see how your foot moves.

plantar fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis foot examination at the Foot and Ankle Institute of Maryland

Imaging Tests

If your doctor suspects that you have plantar fasciitis, they may order imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis. X-rays can help rule out other conditions such as a stress fracture. An MRI or ultrasound can provide more detailed images of the soft tissues in your foot, including the plantar fascia.

x-ray foot
MRI to look for plantar fasciitis and heel pain

Medical History

Your doctor will also ask you about your medical history. They will want to know if you have had any previous foot injuries or if you have any underlying medical conditions that could be contributing to your symptoms. They may also ask about your occupation and activities to see if they could be causing the problem.

Pain Assessment

Plantar fasciitis can cause a range of symptoms, from mild discomfort to severe pain. Your doctor will ask you to rate your pain on a scale from 1 to 10. They may also ask you to describe the location and type of pain you are experiencing.

pain assessment
Plantar Fasciitis pain location is important in determining a treatment plan

Range of Motion Testing

Your doctor may also perform range of motion testing to assess the flexibility of your foot. This can help determine if there are any underlying issues with your foot mechanics that could be contributing to your symptoms.

Treatment Plan

Once your doctor has diagnosed plantar fasciitis, they will work with you to develop a treatment plan. This may include rest, ice, stretching exercises, and physical therapy. Your doctor may also recommend over-the-counter pain medications or prescribe a custom orthotic device to help support your foot.

treatment plan
Custom Orthotics for plantar fasciitis and heel apin

Follow-Up Care

It is important to follow your doctor's instructions and attend all follow-up appointments. Your doctor will want to monitor your progress and adjust your treatment plan as needed. With proper care, most people with plantar fasciitis can recover fully and return to their normal activities.

Conclusion

If you are experiencing foot pain, it is important to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis. By performing a physical examination, ordering imaging tests, and reviewing your medical history, your doctor can determine if you have plantar fasciitis and develop an effective treatment plan to help you recover.