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Diagnosing Plantar Fasciitis

Proper diagnosis plays a crucial role in effectively treating plantar fasciitis. It is highly recommended to consult with a sports podiatrist who has expertise in evaluating the biomechanics of the lower leg and foot. Their specialized knowledge ensures accurate assessment and guides the most suitable treatment for this condition.

In addition to conducting a thorough physical examination, a podiatrist has the capability to administer a range of tests to provide a definitive diagnosis. These may include utilizing advanced imaging technologies like ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). By employing these diagnostic tools, the podiatrist can effectively confirm and assess the condition, enabling them to develop an appropriate treatment plan tailored to the patient’s specific needs.


Plantar fasciitis is a condition that is characterized by experiencing pain on the bottom of the heel. This discomfort is usually most noticeable in the morning when you take your first steps out of bed or when you stand up after sitting for an extended period.

When diagnosing plantar fasciitis, your doctor will take into account your medical history, physical activity levels and foot pain symptoms. They may also perform a clinical exam to further confirm the diagnosis.

Your doctor will inspect for tenderness on the inner aspect of your heel bone and along the plantar fascia, which runs along the bottom of your foot from heel to toes. They may ask you to flex and push on this same plantar fascia while pointing and pulling at each toe.

Your doctor will assess your gait to identify any biomechanical factors that could predispose you to plantar fasciitis, such as a tight Achilles cord or pes planus. If these issues exist, your physician may suggest imaging tests like X-rays or diagnostic ultrasound.

Physical Examination

A physical examination by a healthcare provider is one of the most essential diagnostic tools. It helps physicians establish a working diagnosis, rule out other diagnoses, and take further diagnostic and management actions.

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and examine your feet, particularly where the pain is most intense. They may lightly press on your plantar fascia to feel for inflammation and assess the degree of discomfort.

Other tests you may receive include a lung and abdomen examination. Your healthcare provider might use a stethoscope to listen for breath sounds (called rales), any swishing sounds of blood or fluid in the lungs, as well as abnormal bowel sounds.

In certain cases, your physician may order imaging tests. X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasound can all be utilized to check for signs of plantar fasciitis or other conditions that might cause heel pain.

Imaging Tests

Heel pain is commonly due to inflammation of the plantar fascia, a strong band of tissue running across the bottom of your foot connecting your heel bone with toes. Usually preventable and treatable with rest, icing and targeted stretches and exercises, this condition can be managed.

If conservative treatments don’t solve your heel pain problems, your doctor may order imaging tests to detect other potential causes of the discomfort. These could include a broken bone or stress fracture.

An MRI utilizes a magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed cross-sectional images of bones, tendons and soft tissues. It can detect various conditions like plantar fasciitis, tendon injuries, lesions, cysts and occasionally fractures or heel spurs.

According to Dr. Positano of the Joe DiMaggio Sports Medicine Foot and Ankle Center at HSS, doctors often misdiagnose plantar fasciitis and other conditions. This can cause patients unnecessary suffering and do more harm than good, according to his study.

Expert Consultation

Plantar fasciitis is typically characterized by pain on the bottom of your foot near your heel. This discomfort may feel like a stabbing sensation and becomes worse when you put weight on it or after prolonged standing, walking, or sitting.

If you are suffering from this type of foot discomfort, it is essential to see a podiatrist promptly for diagnosis and treatment. They can also rule out other causes for your discomfort and suggest additional treatments to expedite recovery.

The doctor will take a detailed history of your symptoms, perform a physical exam and may order imaging tests to identify what is causing the pain. These may include an X-ray or an MRI scan.


You might also like to read:

Plantar Fasciitis
Understanding Plantar Fasciitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Risk Factors
The Anatomy of Plantar Fasciitis: A Closer Look at the Plantar Fascia

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