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Can Plantar Fasciitis Cause Sciatic Nerve Pain

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Causes And Risk Factors Of Plantar Fasciitis

Can sciatica lead to heel pain?

Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia becomes tight from too much pressure on the tissue. That strain or damage causes inflammation, which results in your feeling pain and stiffness.

As tension in the plantar fascia increases, tiny tears form in the tissue. The more tension and tearing that occur in the plantar fascia, the more inflammation and irritation there will be. Its this buildup of tension and tearing that cause the pain and stiffness associated with plantar fasciitis.

Men and women between ages 40 and 60 are most likely to experience the condition, though its slightly more common among women, according to a June 2019 article in American Family Physician.

It has a higher incidence among athletes particularly runners. It is sometimes referred to as runners heel. A retrospective study of running injuries found that 7.8 percent of the injuries were plantar fasciitis, and the condition ranked as one of the five most common running injuries.

Plantar fasciitis usually develops over time, rather than being triggered by any one specific injury. There are a number of risk factors that can increase your risk for plantar fasciitis, including:

Bending Over When Lifting Heavy Objects

Whether you are carrying groceries to your kitchen from your car, picking up your child from the bed, or moving flowerpots in your garden, you are placing large amounts of workload on your lumbar discs. When your lumbar discs are overworked, there is an increased risk for developing herniated discs. This, in turn, can compress or irritate the sciatic nerve.

Other Causes Of Heel Pain

Heel pain secondary to sciatica is a result of pressure on the L5-S1 nerve root, which provides segmental innervation to the posterior thigh, and the gluteal, anterior, posterior and lateral leg muscles, as well as sensation to the heel. This nerve root is also responsible for the plantar response . The sciatic nerve innervates numerous muscles along its course, and patients may experience weakness in any or all of them. They may also report sharp pain radiating down the buttocks and the posterior aspect of the thigh and leg distally toward the heel.

The patient’s lower extremities should be evaluated while the patient sits on the examination table with knees flexed. The neurologic examination should include testing of proprioception, sharp/dull sensation and reflexes to rule out polyneuropathy, sciatica and neuralgia as causes of the heel pain. The physical examination should also include the simple thigh and leg raise, which, if painful, may indicate a disorder of the lower back. The treatment of heel pain caused by sciatic root compression should be directed toward the primary pathology.

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Foot Pain Caused By Compression Of Nerves In The Hip Knee Or Leg

Foot pain can also occur when nerves are compressed or damaged along their path in the hip, knee, or leg. For example:

  • Peroneal neuropathy, a condition where the peroneal nerve is compressed or injured near the knee may cause foot pain and foot drop when you try to move your foot.5
  • Sciatic neuropathy or damage to the sciatic nerve in the pelvic region may cause foot pain along the top of your foot with some degree of weakness.6
  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome or dysfunction of the tibial nerve within the tarsal tunnel of the inner ankle may cause a sharp, shooting pain in your ankle area and along the sole of your foot.7
  • Sural nerve entrapment can occur in the leg or near the ankle and typically causes shooting pain along the outer side of your ankle and/or foot.8

Additionally, a corn may develop on the skin around your toes. Corns grow over time as a result of excessive friction, and they can compress nearby nerves, causing pain and other symptoms. Another possible cause of nerve pain in your foot is Morton√Ęs neuroma, which is a thickening of the tissue around a nerve in the foot.

Read more about Causes of Leg Pain and Foot Pain

Why Do We Develop This Pattern Of Tightness

Sciatica Pain Relief Gaithersburg MD

We develop chronic tightness in our muscles as a result of muscle memory. Throughout our lives, as we repeat postures or movements, we start to build up residual muscle tension in the muscles involved in those patterns. It happens so gradually that we usually dont notice were slowly tightening up until one day, we feel pain.

Unfortunately, most health professionals dont understand how full-body patterns of tension can cause pain or symptoms to be felt in just one area. So they use spot treatments, which focus on just the painful area. These spot treatments typically have little lasting effect because they dont address the underlying cause of the problem: the way were using our entire body.

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What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Plantar Fasciitis

  • What do you think caused my plantar fasciitis?
  • Do I need to take any tests?
  • Do you predict that this will go away right away or will it be chronic?
  • How should I restrict my activities?
  • Is there a specific brand of shoes that you recommend?
  • What brand of shoes should I avoid?
  • What type of night splint should I purchase?
  • What low-impact exercises do you recommend?
  • What should I do if the pain becomes unbearable?
  • How often can I receive steroid shots?
  • Do you think Ill need surgery for my plantar fasciitis?
  • Should I ask for reasonable accommodations at my job because of my plantar fasciitis?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

See your healthcare provider if you have heel pain. It might be plantar fasciitis, or it might be something else like a stress fracture or arthritis. You need to verify the proper diagnosis so that you use the most helpful at-home remedies. Remember that you dont have to live with this pain! Educate yourself and access the right resources to improve your quality of life!

Low Back Conditions That May Result In Foot Pain

Sciatica is typically the cause when the lower back is the source of our foot pain. Sciatica is a condition in which the sciatic nerve or one of the associated nerves is impinged or compressed. The pressure on the nerve results in pain radiating from the lower back to the leg and foot . Lower back conditions that may cause sciatica include:

Herniated lumbar disc: Spinal discs are cushions between the vertebrae that give the spine its flexibility and stability. A disc herniation occurs when the soft center of the disc leaks out of a crack of the tough outer exterior and puts pressure on the nerves in the lower back.

Lumbar spinal stenosis: With lumbar stenosis, the spinal nerves in the lower back are compressed due to a narrowing of the canal in the spine housing, placing pressure on the spinal cord and cauda equine.

Spondylolisthesis: Symptoms of spondyloisthesis appear when one of the vertebrae of the spine slides out of place.

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What Are The Types Of Sciatica

There are two types of sciatica:

  • Neurogenic
  • Neurogenic


    The discs between the vertebra can bulge, herniate or sequestrate causing direct pressure on the nerves leaving the spine. Pressure directly onto the spinal cord from within the spine can also compromise the function of the sciatic nerve. Tight muscles through the buttocks and top of the legs can also irritate and put pressure on the sciatic nerve.

    In most of these cases the leg pain is worse than the back pain and described as a sharp, burning, shooting pain. It is often associated with a feeling of numbness, pins and needles, hot and cold sensation and muscle weakness.

    With neurogenic sciatica there are usually abnormal neurological exam findings such as a loss the normal reflexes, muscle weakness and sensory changes.


    Referred Sciatica

    In some cases the pain is worse in the back than it is in the leg and doesnt usually have a shooting quality to it. Abnormal neurological findings, such as reflex changes, objective weakness and sensory changes, are unlikely to be present.

    How To Identify The Source Of Your Foot Pain

    Plantar fasciitis hamstring and sciatic nerve stretch 1

    With all the possible causes of nerve pain in the foot, it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact underlying cause. Here are a few useful signs to help you identify the source of your foot pain:

    • Foot pain that follows recent trauma to the lower back, hip, knee, or ankle may help indicate the site of nerve damage
    • Foot pain due to nerve root compression or sciatica may also be associated with other symptoms, such as pain, numbness, and/or weakness in the buttock, thigh, and leg and typically affects one leg at a time
    • Foot pain that develops after wearing tight boots or shoes may indicate peroneal or sural nerve compression near the knee or ankle
    • Foot pain that develops after a hip injection or hip surgery may indicate sciatic neuropathy

    Nerve pain in the foot may also occur due to nerve damage from systemic conditions, such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis.

    Twisting, bending, or a direct hit on your ankle and/or foot may injure the foot bones, ankle joint, blood vessels, muscles, and/or tendons, causing foot pain.

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    Conditions Related To Plantar Fasciitis

    Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, but it is not the only one. Among these other causes of heel pain are:

    Bursitis Bursas are fluid-filled sacs that cushion bones and muscles near large joints in the body. Theyre found in the hips, shoulders, and elbows, as well as places like the heel of the foot. Bursas in the foot can become inflamed and painful due to excessive walking, running, or jumping.

    Calcaneal Apophysitis The growth plate, or epiphyseal plate, in the heel can become inflamed. The condition, also known as Severs disease, usually occurs in children during growth spurts.

    Inflammatory Diseases People with systemic inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and reactive arthritis, may experience heel pain.

    Lateral Plantar Nerve Entrapment Nerves along the central part of the arch can become compressed between bone and tissue, resulting in pain around the heel and ankle area of the foot.

    Plantar Fascia Rupture In rare cases, the plantar fascia can rupture, according to Quirolgico. This painful injury usually occurs during high-impact exercise, such as sudden jumping, running, and sprinting.

    Sciatica Injury or pressure on your sciatic nerve, which controls muscles in the knees and lower legs, can cause lower-back and leg pain. The pain can sometimes be felt in the foot, but it might be more of a tingling or numbness than the pain typically associated with plantar fasciitis.

    Causes Of Sciatic Pain

    Compressed nerves often cause sciatic pain. Sciatica pain in the foot is usually accompanied by pain in your lower back. This pain seems to radiate from your lower back through your leg, ending in your foot. A slipped disc can press on the sciatic nerve root, causing pain and discomfort.

    The following lower back conditions can contribute to sciatic pain:

  • Herniated Lumbar Disc: A herniated disc results from a discs inner core being pushed out or leaking through its outer core. The pushing or leaking puts pressure on the nerve root, which may radiate down to the sciatic nerve. Depending on the herniated disc location, pain from the sciatic nerve will radiate down the leg into the foot.
  • Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: Lumbar spinal stenosis is a condition that refers to the spinal nerve roots becoming compressed, resulting in inflammation of the area. This compression contributes to feelings of weakness, tingling, or numbness in the foot.
  • Spondylolisthesis:Spondylolisthesis is when a vertebra slips over another vertebra, altering the spine segment. This slip often results in pinched nerves that cause pain to radiate down the leg into the foot.
  • It would be best if you found out the specific cause of your foot pain. It can be done through an examination by a trained physician for a complete diagnosis.

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    What Is Plantar Fasciitis

    The plantar fascia is a thick band of connective tissue that runs along the underside of the foot, from the heel bone to the metatarsals. Its function is to support the arch of the foot by carrying tension when the foot bears weight.

    When too much is demanded of the plantar fascia, the tissue can become inflamed, degenerate, and very painful.

    What Causes Hip Bursitis

    Foot Pain Due to A Nerve Entrapment

    In general, bursitis is caused by excessive wear around the joints, commonly in the form of repetitive microtraumas that happen over time. It is common in athletes, especially those that run long distances but can also occur in the general public, especially those who spend a lot of time standing or otherwise on their feet. The most common causes of hip bursitis include:

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    What Are Sciatica Symptoms

    Sciatica symptoms are generally characterized by painful and uncomfortable sensations caused by the pinching of the sciatic nerve from compression in the lumbar spine region.

    The sciatic nerve is the single longest nerve found in the human body it runs from both sides of the lower backbone through the back of the butt, thighs, and then all the way down to the feet. That is why when the sciatica nerve is aggravated, pains can occur anywhere it is located, including the feet.

    It should be noted that if you are suffering from foot pain occurring from a sciatica issue, the pain is rarely only localized in just the feet. Usually, sciatica pain is felt through the affected nerves pathway in different parts of the hips, buttocks or legs.

    The Link Between Your Feet And Low Back Pain

      If you live with lower back pain, you have a lot of company. Millions of Americans deal with acute lower back pain, and, unfortunately, this pain becomes chronic for 20% of sufferers. And when it comes to back pain, theres one cause thats often overlooked: your feet.

      The connection between your feet and your lower back pain may not seem immediately obvious. However, there is more than one way that your feet and back pain can be linked. In this blog, the doctors at Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine explain the connection between back pain and your feet.

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      When To Contact A Medical Professional

      • Unexplained fever with back pain
      • Back pain after a severe blow or fall
      • Redness or swelling on the back or spine
      • Pain traveling down your legs below the knee
      • Weakness or numbness in your buttocks, thigh, leg, or pelvis
      • Burning with urination or blood in your urine
      • Pain that is worse when you lie down, or awakens you at night
      • Severe pain and you cannot get comfortable
      • Loss of control of urine or stool

      Also call if:

      • You have been losing weight unintentionally
      • You use steroids or intravenous drugs
      • You have had back pain before, but this episode is different and feels worse
      • This episode of back pain has lasted longer than 4 weeks

      Sciatica Referred Heel Pain Info From A Work Injury Doctor

      Is Your Plantar Fasciitis ACTUALLY Sciatica? | Fix Your Sciatica! | Nerve Pain Relief

      The sciatic nerve is a long nerve that extends from the lower back through the buttocks and down the back of the legs. The nerve is prone to being pinched or entrapped as it extends the length of the leg down toward the heel. When the nerve becomes compressed around the hip, pain messages may be sent to the brain due to the inflammation that is sparked up. The pain may flare up due to a work related injury, or an auto accident.

      Interestingly, pain may be felt in the heel rather than in the continuous area typically affected by sciatica. Pain may develop in areas of the body such as the foot and heel. Referred pain from sciatica, for example, offers the impression that the only place in the body that pain is felt is when the affected individual stands and walks.

      When the Pain is Not Plantar Fasciitis

      The most common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis, or heel spurs. However, more and more patients are reporting pain in the heel that arises from referred sciatic pain. When sciatica referred pain arises, the patient feels pain or numbness at times in certain areas on the heel. Some people report a burning sensation in the heel at night or after they have been on their feet for prolonged periods of time.

      In the case of sciatica referred heel pain, the treatment plan should be designed for sciatica and not the heel specifically. In most cases, when the sciatica is treated effectively the pain in the heel goes away.

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      Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome A Close Cousin

      Tarsal tunnel syndrome is closely related to Baxters neuritis, but involves the impingement of nerves just a little higher up, on the inside of the ankle, where they pass through the tarsal tunnel. Nerve entrapment at this location is more truly the carpal tunnel syndrome of the foot than Baxters.

      Just like most cases of Baxters, TTS will be more obviously nervy than plantar fasciitis. But while Baxters affects just the arch, and thus is more easily mistaken for plantar fasciitis, TTS usually causes diffuse symptoms all over the bottom of the foot, making it much less likely to be mistaken for plantar fasciitis.

      Also, theres a very easy test for tarsal tunnel syndrome: firmly tap behind the inside ankle bone. If your symptoms flare right up, bingo! This is called the tarsal tap test, a quick and easy way to confirm or deny tarsal tunnel syndrome.

      Spinal Problems That May Cause Foot Pain


      October 15, 2015 | Blog

      Foot pain is more often a result of injury, wearing ill-fitting shoes or physical issues within the foot, such as tendonitis, arthritis or bursitis. However, in some cases, pain in your foot may be linked to problems in your spine. There are some revealing signs of foot pain caused by a problem in your spine, such as your foot feeling heavy, difficulty raising your foot up, leg pain, numbness, weakness and problem walking on your tiptoes.

      Studies have shown that spinal dysfunction, like a narrowing of the spinal canal or spinal stenosis, pinches and squeezes on the spinal nerves in your lower back, causing leg pain that radiates down to your feet.

      These include:

      • Degenerative spondylolisthesis
      • Facet joint arthritis that enlarges the facet joints

      The kind of pain felt depends on the location of the spinal dysfunction, like a problematic L3-L4 spinal area would cause pain in the front of the thigh, the frontal area of the knee, the shin, and/or the foot. If you suspect that your foot pain may be because of a spinal issue, you should discuss with your physician to consider any of the above spinal dysfunctions. After an initial medical checkup, your physician may direct you to a spine specialist for further examination.

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