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Plantar Fasciitis

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Treatment Overview

The goals of treatment for plantar fasciitis are to:

  • Relieve inflammation and pain in the heel.
  • Allow small tears in the plantar fascia ligament to heal.
  • Improve strength and flexibility and correct foot problems such as pronation camera.gif so that you don't stress the plantar fascia ligament.
  • 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

Treatment that you start when you first notice symptoms is more successful and takes less time than treatment that is delayed.

Initial treatment

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 good choices.
  • Try heel cups or shoe inserts (orthotics camera.gif) 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 hurts.
  • 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 camera.gif, calf stretches camera.gif, and towel stretches camera.gif 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.)
    actionset.gif 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 weight-loss program.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 18, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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