What Is a Plantar Fibroma?

Medically Reviewed by Sanjay Ponkshe on May 13, 2023
3 min read

A plantar fibroma is a fibrous knot, or nodule, in the arch of the foot. This nodule is embedded in the plantar fascia—a band of tissue spanning from heel to toe on the bottom of the foot. A plantar fibroma can happen on one or both of your feet at a time. Plantar fibromas are benign, but will not go away unless treated. There is no exact cause for this condition.

A plantar fibroma is a nodule in your foot. A fibroma is a knot of connective tissue, and can happen anywhere in your body. These knots are benign, which means they won’t spread to other parts of your body, but they also won’t go away without treatment. 

A plantar fibroma creates a lump on the arch of your foot, which can cause pain. The pain can be intensified the more you step or press on it, or by certain shoes that you wear. This may cause daily discomfort that eventually becomes unbearable. 

There’s not an exact known cause of this nodule on your foot. However, some experts believe that they begin with small tears in your plantar fascia from a trauma. The nodules are the result of scar tissue that forms from healing the tears. 

A plantar fibroma can occur at any age. However, they’re most common in people middle age and older. Men get them twice as often as women, however the reason for that is still unclear.

The biggest characteristic of a plantar fibroma is a noticeable, firm lump on the arch of your foot. This lump, or nodule, can stay the same size or get larger over time. You can also get more fibromas on your foot or feet. ‌

You may or may not have pain when you have a plantar fibroma. Typically, pain that occurs is because of shoes pushing against the nodule, rather than the nodule itself. 

Diagnosing a plantar fibroma is relatively easy. You’ll need to see a foot specialist who can rule out other conditions and determine if the lump on your foot is benign.

To get a diagnosis for a plantar fibroma, you’ll need to see a foot and ankle surgeon. They will examine your foot and press on the area affected. Sometimes this can cause pain that reaches your toes. They may take an x-ray or MRI if needed. On rare occasions, they’ll need to do a biopsy to further examine the lump. 

The nodule on your foot will likely have no swelling, increased warmth, or redness. When examining your foot, they’ll look for signs of other conditions. Other reasons for soft-tissue masses in your foot include cysts, swollen tendons, nerve tumors, or fatty tumors. They will also rule out foreign body reactions to something like a splinter that can cause swelling or inflection. 

A plantar fibroma is a relatively easy condition to treat. In most cases, you won’t need surgery to relieve the pain of the nodule. However, nonsurgical treatment might not make the nodule disappear completely. Some nonsurgical treatments your doctor may suggest include: 

Steroid injections. Putting corticosteroid medication into the nodule may help it shrink it, which will reduce or relieve the pain. This reduction may be temporary though, and the fibroma could eventually return to its original size.

Shoe inserts. If your doctor determines the nodule is not growing anymore, they may suggest using custom shoe inserts. This helps relieve pain by keeping weight off the lump.

Stretching. By stretching your plantar fascia, you may be able to alleviate the pain caused by the nodule. This may help reduce your pain but will not shrink the nodule itself. 

Physical therapy. Sometimes the pain can be treated through physical therapy. In addition to stretching and strengthening treatment, the therapist may use ultrasound or shockwave treatment to reduce the size of the fibroma.

If the nodule on your foot is getting larger and more painful, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. They will be able to evaluate your plantar fibroma and determine if more extensive treatment is required.

When you're experiencing pain that doesn't go away in a few days, it's best to consult your doctor. They will help you determine the cause of your pain and treat it early.