If you ever step out of bed in the morning and feel a sharp, knife-like shooting pain in your heel, there\u2019s a good chance you have a condition called \u201cplantar fasciitis.\u201d\nIt\u2019s the most common cause of heel pain \u2014 and it can be excruciating. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, approximately 2 million people undergo treatment for plantar fasciitis each year.\nWhat Causes Plantar Fasciitis?\nThe plantar fascia \u2014 a strong band of tissue, or ligament, that stretches from the heel to the middle foot bones \u2014 supports the foot and acts as a shock absorber. Plantar fasciitis occurs when this ligament becomes irritated and inflamed.\nThe most common cause of plantar fasciitis is overuse and overloading the plantar fascia. However, improper footwear, obesity, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, aging, and foot structure also may contribute to this condition.\nRELATED:\u00a0Managing Flat Feet: Symptoms, Treatment, and Risks\nAre You at Risk of Developing Plantar Fasciitis?\nPlantar fasciitis common in both professional athletes and \u201cweekend warriors,\u201d and it affects men and women equally. People who are on their feet for long periods of time such as dancers, teachers, runners, soldiers, or waiters are at greater risk than those who are more sedentary.\nWhat Are the Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?\nPain is the hallmark symptom of plantar fasciitis, and it can occur anywhere on the underside of the heel. Gentle exercise may ease things a little as the day goes by, but a long walk often makes the pain worse.\nWhat Is the Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis?\nPatients often improve after six to nine months of non-surgical treatment, including rest, anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain and inflammation, applying cold compresses, splinting and therapy (stretching) programs, and shock wave treatment to soften and break down scar tissue and reduce inflammation, said Periklis A. Papapetropoulos, MD, foot and ankle surgeon at Orthopaedic Specialists-UPMC.\u00a0 Or, your doctor may recommend using orthotic insoles.\nDuring recovery, it\u2019s important to reduce or eliminate activities that cause discomfort until the pain and inflammation ease. If you start using your plantar fascia before it has a chance to heal properly (even though it may feel better), you can end up doing a lot more damage than good!\nWhat If Treatment Doesn\u2019t Ease Your\u00a0Heel Pain?\nSurgery may be considered if nonsurgical treatments do not bring relief within nine months.