The first steps your doctor will recommend to treat plantar fasciitis are ones you can take yourself. Different people find that one method or a combination of methods works best for them.
Try the following methods:
- Rest your feet. Stop or reduce any activities that may be causing your heel pain.
- Wear supportive footwear. Wear shoes that have good arch support and heel cushioning. Or buy shoe inserts (orthotics ). Shoe inserts may be made of plastic, rubber, or felt. Orthotics can reduce stress and pulling on the plantar fascia ligament .
- Use ice on your heel. Ice can help reduce inflammation. Contrast baths, which alternate hot and cold water, can also be helpful. Heat alone may make symptoms worse for some people, so always end a contrast bath with a soak in cold water. If ice isn't helping after 2 or 3 days, try heat, such as a heating pad set on low.
- Take ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin), naproxen (such as Aleve), or another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to reduce pain and inflammation. NSAIDs come in pills and in a cream that you rub over the sore area. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
- Wear night splints . Night splints gently stretch the plantar fascia ligament and Achilles tendon and keep them from getting tight during the night.
- Do stretching and strengthening exercises. Exercises for stretching the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia will increase their flexibility. Exercises to strengthen the muscles of the foot and ankle will help support the arch.
Often athletes develop foot problems because they train in shoes that are worn out or don't fit properly. Replace your shoes every few months, because the padding wears out. Also, replace shoes if the tread or heels are worn down. While replacing shoes is expensive, it is less expensive-and less painful-than a long-lasting heel problem. Other sensible training techniques, such as avoiding uneven or hard surfaces, can help prevent plantar fasciitis from occurring or returning.
If your weight is putting extra stress on your feet, your doctor may encourage you to try a weight-loss program.
To be successful at treating plantar fasciitis, you will need to:
- Be patient and consistent. The majority of cases of plantar fasciitis go away in time if you regularly stretch, wear good shoes, and rest your feet so they can heal.
- Start treatment right away. Don't just ignore the pain and hope it will go away. The longer you wait to begin treatment, the longer it will take for your feet to stop hurting.
The healing process takes time-from a few months to a year. But you should begin to have less pain within weeks of starting treatment. If you have not improved after trying these methods for 6 weeks, your doctor will suggest other treatments.