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Series Plantar Fasciitis

What Will My Doctor Do for My Plantar Fasciitis?

Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on December 11, 2022

If your first steps in the morning cause a stabbing pain in your heel, you may have plantar fasciitis. This inflammation of the plantar fascia -- the tissue that connects your heel to your toes -- is very common, especially for runners.

With the right treatment, this condition usually goes away in several months. To speed up your recovery and rule out other injuries, you may want to see your doctor.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will examine your foot to pinpoint where the pain is coming from. This exam, along with your medical history, will help them diagnose the condition.

Your doctor may also order imaging tests so they can rule out another cause of the pain. This could be something like a broken bone or stress fracture.

Treatment

There are a few options your doctor could try to ease your pain and reduce inflammation in your foot.  

The primary treatment to ease pain is foot and arch support.  Never go barefoot and wear flip-flops or thin slippers without arch support. There are even boots to wear at night if needed. 

Your doctor  might even recommend you try a few therapies at the same time. These include:

Medication. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) will help with your pain and reduce inflammation of the plantar fascia. Your doctor may prescribe multiple doses a day for several weeks.

Physical therapy. If medication, rest, and ice don't help enough, your doctor might recommend that you go to a physical therapist.

You'll learn exercises to stretch and strengthen your plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, and lower leg muscles. Your physical therapist may also use massage, contrast baths, or ultrasonography to help with long-term healing.

If you don't show progress after several months, your doctor may recommend a more involved procedure or even surgery. These options include:

Tenex procedure. You only need a small cut and it's usually over in a few minutes. An ultrasound is used to target and remove scar tissue. This procedure allows you to get back to your regular routine in as little as 10 days.

Surgery. This operation takes your plantar fascia off of your heel bone. Surgery is usually the last resort if you have severe pain or a stubborn injury that other treatments don't help. You will probably go home the same day. Your doctor may ask you to wear a splint or boot and not put weight on your foot for a certain amount of time.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: "Plantar fasciitis."

Arthritis Foundation.

American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society.

OrthInfo: "Plantar Fasciitis and Bone Spurs."

Medscape: "Plantar Fasciitis Treatment & Management," "Plantar Heel Pain Treatment & Management."

American Family Physician: "Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis," "Plantar Fasciitis: Evidence-Based Review of Diagnosis and Therapy."

U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Conservative therapy for plantar fasciitis: a narrative review of randomized controlled trials."

Highmark Health: "Easing the Heel Pain of Plantar Fasciitis."

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