Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Foot FAQ

Question:

All the women in my family develop plantar fasciitis about the time they turn 50. Is this a genetic trait?

Answer:

Plantar fasciitis (PF) is an inflammatory condition that affects the fibrous tissue along the bottom of the foot. It causes severe pain when the person stands for the first time after a long rest period or upon awakening in the morning.

The pain can last for months, causes limping, and may require surgery before it goes away. The exact cause of this problem remains a mystery. Many studies have been done to find out what's going on. Some scientists have measured the blood flow to the foot.

Others have used ultrasound to measure the thickness of the fascia. They tried to relate thickness to arch angles and pain levels. It's clear that the arch angle has something to do with it. The ratio of height-to-length is known to be a factor.

People with low arches seem to be at risk, too. This position of the foot may put increased load on the fascia causing microdamage and the resulting pain. But the fact that not everyone with low arches develops plantar fasciitis suggests some other factors.

Women do seem more prone to PF so maybe there are hormonal factors. And women going through menopause have an increased incidence of this problem. It may be more likely gender-linked than hereditary but this has not been proven one way or the other yet. Scott C. Wearing, PhD, et al. Plantar Fasciitis: Are Pain and Fascial Thickness Associated with Arch Shape and Loading? In Physical Therapy. August 2007. Vol. 87. No. 8. Pp. 1002-1008.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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