Plantar Fasciitis Treatment

Plantar fasciitis (fashee-EYE-tiss) is the most common cause of pain on the bottom of the heel. Approximately 2 million patients are treated for this condition every year.

Plantar fasciitis occurs when the strong band of tissue that supports the arch of your foot becomes irritated and inflamed.

Symptoms & Causes

Symptoms

Heel pain is very common in all age groups. The most common cause in adults is plantar fasciitis. It is believed to be due to inflammation of the attachment of the plantar fascia to the calcaneus or heel bone. The plantar fascia is the thick fibrous covering of the muscles in the arch of the foot that connect the heel to the toes. It typically causes pain in the bottom of the heel which can be mild or severe. It is worse when a person first puts weight on it in the morning or after sitting for a time. It may be painful after standing for long periods. It is frequently associated with heel spurs but is not considered to be due to the spur but inflammation of the muscle and fascia attachment to the heel at the site of the spur. Many patients have spurs without ever having heel pain.

Causes

The strong band of tissue that supports the arch of your foot is known as the plantar fascia. Inflammation of the tissue occurs when it absorbs too much pressue that causes it to damage or tear. Additionally, there are a number of factors that can highten the risk of plantar fasciitis such as obesity, repetitive acitivities such as running, new acitivites and high arches that all places increased pressure on the tissue.

Treatment Options

Non-surgical Treatment

Typically the pain will go away but it can take months or even over 1 year to resolve.

  • Reducing or stopping the strenous activities that worsen the pain such as running.
  • Applying ice to the foot several times a day can also be effective.
  • Heel cups are shoe inserts which pad the heel and help take the pain away in some patients.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication may be helpful in some patients.
  • Achilles stretching and strengthening exercises are helpful.
  • Night bracing to hold the foot in the neutral position has been shown to help most patients as well.
  • Injection with corticosteroid locally and casting are reserved for recalcitrant cases.

Surgical Treatment

Surgery may be an option in patients that have had pain and treatment for over 6 months. Release of the plantar fascia and decompression of a small nerve that may be entrapped is usually successful in relieving the pain in patients that have not improved with time and nonoperative treatment.

Learn more about plantar fasciitis.

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