How do I Treat Plantar Fasciitis Pain?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

While there are many different causes of heel pain, plantar fasciitis can be one of the most excruciating. If the plantar fascia, or heel ligament, gets strained, it can weaken and become inflamed, causing discomfort while standing or walking. Most people can treat plantar fasciitis pain fairly easily with medication and rest, and even recover completely within a few months.

Shoe insoles can help alleviate plantar fasciitis pain.
Shoe insoles can help alleviate plantar fasciitis pain.

People with plantar fasciitis should try to walk less overall. When pain is severe, people can elevate their feet, avoiding unnecessary walking for a few days at a time. In place of running or walking, athletes can temporarily switch to biking or swimming for exercise. Stretching the plantar fascia, calf muscles, and Achilles tendon can also provide comfort.

An ice pack, which can help with plantar fasciitis pain.
An ice pack, which can help with plantar fasciitis pain.

Various medications can help treat plantar fasciitis pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDSs) like naproxen and ibuprofen can relieve suffering. Corticosteroids applied to the skin through an electric current or an injection can also alleviate pain, though they can also cause the area to weaken even further. It should be noted that these medicines will not cure the cause of the pain itself.

Some patients find pain medication can help treat plantar fasciitis pain.
Some patients find pain medication can help treat plantar fasciitis pain.

Many sufferers can treat plantar fasciitis pain with simple home remedies. Ice applied to the affected area can help with pain. This should be done by holding a cloth-covered ice pack over the area three to four times a day for 15 to 20 minute intervals. An ice treatment can also be given following any physical activity.

Athletes can choose swimming over running to deal with plantar fasciitis pain.
Athletes can choose swimming over running to deal with plantar fasciitis pain.

Some people treat plantar fasciitis pain with a cold ice massage. A person can easily do this by himself by filling a paper cup with water and freezing it. Rolling the frozen ice cup over the site of pain for five to seven minutes at a time can lessen both the discomfort as well as the inflammation causing it.

Plantar fasciitis often causes feet to hurt in the morning.
Plantar fasciitis often causes feet to hurt in the morning.

Other patients might treat plantar fasciitis pain with over-the-counter arch supports. These are placed directly into a person's shoes. Arch supports can help relieve symptoms by absorbing the tension and shock the plantar fascia normally experiences. There is no evidence to suggest that inserts with magnets are any more or less effective than supports without magnets.

If the plantar fascia becomes strained, it can become inflamed and cause discomfort while walking or standing.
If the plantar fascia becomes strained, it can become inflamed and cause discomfort while walking or standing.

Physical therapy may be needed to treat severe pain. A variety of exercises could be prescribed to strengthen muscles. Athletic taping may also be given to the patient to help support feet. Splints may also be recommended to the patient. These are usually meant to be worn during sleep, and help stretch the the area without patient effort. Custom arch supports might also be prescribed.

A podiatrist may advise custom-made orthotics to treat people with painful plantar fasciitis.
A podiatrist may advise custom-made orthotics to treat people with painful plantar fasciitis.
Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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Discussion Comments

parmnparsley

I've had plantar fasciitis, and it can be one of the more painful injuries. Compared to knee or elbow strains I would say that PF is the worst. PF takes months to heal and the pain can be distracting, potentially causing decreased productivity. It can also limit your physical ability for some time. I found that cold and pressure were some of the best remedies for the immediate pain. I also feel like working the area on a regular basis helped to hasten the healing process. My best friend was a frozen lacrosse ball. Lacrosse balls are very dense rubber balls and they stay cold for a while. After a long day I would sit in a chair and roll the ball under the arch of my foot; progressively applying more pressure. It took about two months until I was able to play sports at full speed again. The good news is I haven’t had a recurrence of PF since (It’s been 3 years).

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