Plantar fasciitis is a condition that causes sharp pain in the heel of the foot. Overuse that results in a strain or tear of plantar fascia tissue in the heel leaves the area inflamed, irritated, and highly sensitive. There are many different plantar fasciitis treatment options available, depending on the severity of a person's foot pain. Pain can often be relieved in about one month by resting the afflicted foot as much as possible, applying ice packs, and wearing comfortable shoes with over-the-counter cushioning inserts. A more serious case of plantar fasciitis should be inspected by a doctor, who may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications, order custom orthotics, or suggest surgery and physical therapy.
The most common form of plantar fasciitis treatment is simply resting the foot and avoiding intensive activities, such as running or playing sports. By relieving the pressure and strain placed on the foot during activity, the plantar fascia tissue has a chance to heal itself. Applying ice to the heel several times a day helps to numb the tissue and reduce pain, and massaging the foot regularly can decrease built-up tension.
Many people find that arch-supporting shoe inserts can reduce plantar fasciitis pain when walking and standing. A cushioning shoe insert helps to protect inflamed tissue from friction. Doctors often recommend that, along with comfortable shoes and inserts, people try to stretch their calf muscles and Achilles tendons thoroughly before walking or running. Improving flexibility in the lower leg and Achilles tendon takes strain off the plantar fascia and improves stability in the ankle.
An individual with severe, persistent pain in one or both heels should visit his or her primary care doctor to learn about other plantar fasciitis treatment options. A physician can conduct a physical examination and take an x-ray of the heel to make sure that pain is not being caused by another problem, such as a bone fracture. Once plantar fasciitis has been officially diagnosed, the doctor can determine how to treat it effectively.
Some cases can be alleviated with prescription medications, including oral anti-inflammatory drugs and topical corticosteroid creams. Specialists may also fit a patient with custom orthotic shoes or shoe inserts that cushion feet and provide support. Splints that help stretch the Achilles tendons and calf muscles are another option for plantar fasciitis treatment. If no other plantar fasciitis treatment is effective, an individual may need to undergo surgery to repair torn plantar fascia tissue, followed by several months of physical therapy sessions to regain strength.