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Plantar Fasciitis

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Treatment Overview

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Ongoing treatment

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:

  • Custom-made shoe inserts (orthotics). Custom-made orthotics camera.gif 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 camera.gif. 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.
  • A 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.

Formal 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 fascia.

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 pain worse.

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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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