About 2 million people each year seek treatment for sharp, stabbing, sometimes burning pain in the heel or arch of their foot, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
The diagnosis: plantar fasciitis, a condition that develops when the plantar fascia - the band of tissue on the bottom of the foot that connects the heel to the toes and supports the arch - becomes inflamed or strained. The injury most often results not from one triggering event or accident but rather from too much pressure or activity over time.
At higher risk are people who are overweight, or who run often or who regularly take part in other high-impact activities, such as jumping or dancing. Those with plantar fasciitis often have heel spurs, but health experts say spurs are not the cause of plantar fasciitis pain.
Research in the Journal of Pain found that 70 percent of people with plantar fasciitis report moderate to severe pain, 61 percent have this pain daily and 54 percent say it interferes with normal work activities.
Simple treatment methods - avoiding high-impact exercise, taking over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, using orthotics (shoe inserts) for added support and possibly icing the foot periodically - resolve symptoms for most people, although the pain usually takes months, sometimes longer, to fully heal.