Foot pain while walking is not always caused by plantar fasciitis, a clinical surgeon in Taipei said, adding that varicose veins can also cause pain when walking and are more common in women.

Shu Tien Clinic Vascular Surgery division head Yu Tarng-jenn (游堂振) said that a 55-year-old woman who had foot pain, especially when walking, thought she had plantar fasciitis, but her symptoms did not ease after undergoing extracorporeal shock wave therapy several times.

The woman underwent a magnetic resonance imaging scan showing she had varicose veins.

Most people think that varicose veins form in the calves, but when they occur on the sole of the foot the symptoms can be similar to plantar fasciitis, Yu said, adding that the condition is called atypical plantar fasciitis.

He said most people think that varicose veins are visible red, purple, or blue vessels that twist and can also cause pain, numbness, swelling and other easily noticeable symptoms.

“However, because people get sufficient nutrition, collagen below the skin’s surface is usually thicker and the veins are hidden,” Yu said.

Yu said that about 33 percent of women and about 15 percent of men develop varicose veins, which are most often found in people who stand for long hours, such as teachers, healthcare personnel and service industry workers.

Atypical plantar fasciitis can be treated by compression therapy, sclerotherapy or surgery, and patients should discuss with their doctors which method is best for their condition, Yu said.

People who stand or sit for long durations every day should move their legs or let them rest for a while every hour, and seek medical treatment if similar symptoms occur, Yu said.

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