The goals of treatment for
plantar fasciitis are to:
inflammation and pain in the heel.
small tears in the plantar fascia ligament to heal.
strength and flexibility and correct foot problems such as
pronation so that you don't stress the plantar fascia
- Allow you to go back to your normal activities.
Most people recover completely within a year. Out
of 100 people with plantar fasciitis, about 95 are able to relieve their heel
pain with nonsurgical treatments. Only about 5 out of 100 need surgery.1
that you start when you first notice symptoms is more successful and takes less
time than treatment that is delayed.
There are many methods you can
try to relieve the heel pain of
plantar fasciitis. Even though their effectiveness has not
been proved in scientific studies, these methods, used alone or in combination,
work for most people.2
- Rest your feet. Limit or, if possible, stop
daily activities that are causing your heel pain. Try to avoid running or
walking on hard surfaces, such as concrete.
- To reduce inflammation
and relieve pain, put
ice on your heel. You can also try a
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen (Advil or
Motrin, for example), naproxen (Aleve, for example), or aspirin. NSAIDs come in pills and in a cream that you rub over the sore area.
- Wear shoes with good shock absorption and the right arch support
for your foot. Athletic shoes or shoes with a well-cushioned sole are usually
- Try heel cups or shoe inserts (orthotics ) to help
cushion your heel. You can buy these at many athletic shoe stores and
drugstores. Use them in both shoes, even if only one foot
- Put on your shoes as soon as you get out of bed.
Going barefoot or wearing slippers may make your pain worse.
- Do simple exercises such as
toe stretches , calf stretches , and
towel stretches several times a day, especially when you first get up in the
morning. These can help your ligament become more flexible and strengthen the
muscles that support your arch. (For towel stretches, you pull on both ends of a rolled towel that you place under the ball of your foot.)
- Plantar Fasciitis: Exercises to Relieve Pain.
Avoid using only heat on your foot, such as from a
heating pad or a heat pack for at least the first 2 or 3 days. Heat tends to make symptoms worse for some people. If you use
contrast baths, which alternate hot and cold water,
make sure you end with a soak in cold water. If you try a heating pad, use a low setting.
If your weight is
putting extra stress on your feet, your doctor may encourage you to try a
If nonsurgical methods such as
rest, ice, and stretching exercises help relieve your
plantar fasciitis symptoms, continue using them. If
you have not improved after 6 weeks, your doctor may recommend that you
continue those methods but add other nonsurgical treatments, such as:
shoe inserts (orthotics). Custom-made orthotics
require a prescription. If your foot has an unusual shape or if you have a certain
problem that the device will help, then a custom-made insert may fit better and
control pain better than a nonprescription one.
- Night splints . A night splint holds the foot with the
toes pointed up and with the foot and ankle at a 90-degree angle. This position
applies a constant, gentle stretch to the plantar fascia.
walking cast on the lower leg. Casting is somewhat
more expensive and inconvenient than other nonsurgical treatments. And after
the cast is removed, you will need some rehabilitation to restore strength and
range of motion. But a cast forces you to rest your foot.
physical therapy instruction can help make sure you properly stretch your Achilles tendon and plantar fascia ligament. Doctors usually
consider surgery only for severe cases that do not improve.
Treatment if the condition gets worse
Your doctor may suggest
corticosteroid shots if you have tried nonsurgical
treatment for several weeks without success.1 Shots
can relieve pain, but the relief is often short-term. Also, the shots themselves can be
painful, and repeated shots can damage the heel pad and the plantar
Out of 100
people with plantar fasciitis, about 95 are able to relieve their heel pain
with nonsurgical treatments. Only about 5 out of 100 need surgery.1 If you are one of the few people whose symptoms don't improve
in 6 to 12 months with other treatments, your doctor may recommend
plantar fascia release surgery. Plantar fascia release
involves cutting part of the plantar fascia ligament in order to release the
tension and relieve the inflammation of the ligament.
- Plantar Fasciitis: Should I Have Surgery for Heel Pain?
What to think about
If you are trying to lose
weight and you develop plantar fasciitis when you begin exercising, especially
jogging, talk with your doctor about other types of activity that will support
your weight-loss efforts without making your heel pain worse. An activity like
swimming that doesn't put stress on your feet may be a good choice.
If your plantar fasciitis is related to sports or your job, you may have
trouble stopping or reducing your activity to allow your feet to heal. But
resting your feet is very important to avoid long-lasting heel pain. Your
doctor or a
sports medicine specialist may be able to suggest a
plan for alternating your regular activities with ones that do not make your
If you exercise frequently, ask your doctor
whether physical therapy or referral to a sports medicine
orthopedist is appropriate.
Some questions you may want to ask about exercise include:
- Should I cut back on my exercise? How many days
per week, how long, and what exercise should I do instead?
- Should I
ice my foot after I exercise? If so, for how long each time, and how long
should I continue the icing?
- Should I use nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) either before or after I
- Are there exercises I can do to make my foot
and ankle more flexible? What are they, and how often and how long should I do