How to Ease the Foot Pain of Plantar Fasciitis

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man's thumbs massaging his heel

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs from your heel to your toes along the bottom of your foot and helps provide arch support for your foot.

When that tissue gets inflamed, it can cause pain in the bottom of your foot that can limit your ability to walk, stand and do other activities that are weight-bearing. 

Most people will feel pain on the bottom of the foot, usually on the heel and in the arch area. Typically, pain occurs with the first few steps in the morning after getting out of bed or after sitting for an extended period of time, and can get worse after prolonged standing and walking.

Plantar fasciitis is caused by decreased flexibility in your calf muscles, increased body weight, improper footwear, such as open-backed shoes or shoes with little to no arch support, flat feet or high arches.

The first steps and safest self-treatments a person may take to help alleviate the pain is:

  • Gently stretching the calf muscles
  • Rolling a frozen water bottle under the arch of your foot
  • Massaging the bottom of your foot
  • Avoid wearing open backed shoes and sandals
  • Replacing your shoes regularly
  • Wearing a boot at night
  • Choosing shoes with proper arch support

If your symptoms do not improve after three to five days or if these symptoms reoccur, it might be helpful to see an orthopedic physician or a physical therapist to help with alleviating the pain and determine the underlying cause to prevent it from happening again.

How a Doctor or Physical Therapist Can Help

Your doctor can help assess your foot pain and help determine a plan of care to treat your symptoms. Your doctor and physical therapist also can identify potential causes of the pain and determine if your pain is coming from your plantar fascia or from another foot structure or source.

A physical therapist can:

  • Assess your gait or running technique
  • Provide manual therapy, exercises, stretching techniques, taping, modalities
  • Recommend or provide appropriate orthotic inserts to help reduce your pain

Evie Evans, DPT, MBA, OCS, is a physical therapist at UH Geneva Medical Center.

Related Links

The sports medicine and orthopedic center at University Hospitals provides comprehensive sports injury treatment, from injury prevention through rehabilitation, for athletes of all ages and skill levels. Learn more about sports medicine at UH and find a doctor near you.

 

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