In order for patients and professionals to understand plantar fasciitis, they must have at least a simple appreciation of the anatomy of the plantar fascia. In short, the plantar fascia has 3 main portions:
1. central band
2. medial band
3. lateral band
The reason you need to know this is because together the plantar fascia covers a large area of the foot and not everybody experiences plantar fasciitis in the same place or indeed in the same band.
Central Band of Plantar Fascia
The central band is by far the most common injury site in plantar fasciitis and usually, occurs at its attachment to the medial calcaneal tuberosity (the bottom of the heel bone). Pain can also be experienced approximately 2-5cm beyond the heel bone into the sole of the foot with tenderness running along to the ends of the toes as depicted in the image below.
Medial Band of Plantar Fascia
The medial band is thin and forms the covering of the abductor hallucis muscle (muscle along the inside of the arch). It can also become painful in plantar fasciitis. Pain along the medial band is experienced more along the side of the heel bone and along the inside of the arch. The highlighted green area in the image below demonstrates this.
Lateral Band of Plantar Fascia
The least common type of plantar fasciitis is pain along the lateral band which is a much smaller, less significant portion of the plantar fascia by comparison to the other two bands. It is also attached to medial calcaneal tubercle like the central band is, however, is continues along the outer side of the heel to attach to the base of the 5th metatarsal. Pain in the lateral band is experienced more towards the outer part of the heel. The image below demonstrates the lateral band of the plantar fascia highlighted in green.
Why you need to know this
The location of your pain will be dependent on what part of the plantar fascia you have injured. For example, if you have injured the medial band of the plantar fascia you may experience pain on the inside of the heel or along the inside of the arch in the foot. This area of pain does not fit the classic description of "plantar fasciitis" which is in most cases painful at the bottom of the heel. Therefore when patients self-diagnose their foot pain thanks to all the wonderful and sometimes shambolic information available via the internet they may end up believing they have a different condition because the information they have read doesn't fit their profile.
Advice - Do not self-diagnose your pain. This can result in inappropriate treatment, a risk of harm and delayed recovery. Seek professional advice from a podiatrist or suitably qualified health professional. The first step to successful treatment is the correct diagnosis