Treating Plantar Fasciitis: Self-Care and Medical Treatments

Medically Reviewed By Adam Hotchkiss, DPM
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Plantar fasciitis is pain in the heel of the foot. Home remedies and medical treatments can help to alleviate foot pain. Plantar fasciitis affects around 10% of people. It typically happens as a result of overuse, which can cause sharp pain in one or both heels.

Home remedies for plantar fasciitis can help alleviate pain so you can continue going about your daily routine. In more severe cases, your doctor may recommend surgery.

Read on to find out more about treatment options for plantar fasciitis. This article looks at self-care tips, foot exercises, surgical options, and more.

What are the home remedies for plantar fasciitis?

A person is holding their foot.
VISUALSPECTRUM/Stocksy United (person appearing is a model and used for illustrative purposes only)

Home remedies and self-care tips can help you manage plantar fasciitis.

Rest your feet

Resting your feet can help alleviate plantar fasciitis pain by reducing the pressure on your heels. Rest your feet whenever you feel the pain becoming too severe, because plantar fasciitis typically happens due to overuse.

It is important to still move your feet when possible. Gently move your feet now and again to prevent them from becoming stiff.

Apply ice

When resting your feet or after stretching, apply ice to your feet. Boston Children’s Hospital recommends applying ice on the part of your foot that is most tender for around 20–30 minutes after exercising.

Take care to not apply ice directly to your feet. Try wrapping ice in a towel instead.

Perform stretching exercises

Basic stretching exercises at home can help to reduce plantar fasciitis pain. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) recommends stretching both your plantar fascia and your calf.

To stretch your plantar fascia:

  • Sit down and cross your affected foot over the knee on your opposite leg.
  • Hold your toes and slowly pull them toward you.
  • Place your other hand along the plantar fascia and hold it for around 10 seconds.
  • Repeat 20 times on each affected foot.

To stretch your calf:

  • Face a wall and lean forward with your hands on the wall.
  • Keep the knee on the leg of the affected foot straight. Your heel should be on the ground.
  • Place your other leg in front and bend your knee.
  • Push your hip toward the wall and hold for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat 20 times for each affected foot.

Contact your doctor for advice on how to safely perform stretching exercises for plantar fasciitis.

Adjust your exercise regime

If you find that your plantar fasciitis pain worsens during or after exercise, you may wish to change your exercise regime.

Avoid exercises that put a lot of pressure on your feet, such as running. Plantar fasciitis accounts for around 10% of running injuries.

Focus instead on stretching exercises, particularly those that stretch the calf and plantar fascia.

Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist to help you to come up with an exercise regime that does not exacerbate your plantar fasciitis pain.

Massage your feet

Deep friction massage, or cross friction massage, of the arch can help reduce plantar fascia pain.

Contact your doctor or physical therapist for advice on how to correctly apply pressure to the plantar fascia during the massage. They will be able to provide you with guidance on how to safely perform the massage at home.

Wear orthotics

Wearing orthotics or shoe insoles specifically designed to treat plantar fasciitis can help provide you with more adequate support.

Custom orthotics can be tailored to the shape of your feet for enhanced support. They can help alleviate pain while walking, helping to more evenly distribute pressure.

Wear a night splint

Wearing a positional night splint can help stretch your calf and foot while you sleep, reducing the stiffness in your foot when you wake up.

A small 2017 study found that wearing a night splint helped alleviate some pain. However, a night splint alone is not likely to rectify the problem. You may wish to consider wearing a night splint alongside other treatments.

Some people also choose to wear a splint during the day when sitting down or relaxing. This may be more tolerable than wearing the splint all night.

Take pain relief medication

Over-the-counter pain relief medication can help alleviate plantar fasciitis pain. This includes oral and topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Contact your pharmacist for advice on which pain relief medication is right for you. Make sure they are aware of any other medications you are currently taking.

What are the medical treatments for plantar fasciitis?

If your plantar fasciitis pain does not respond to home remedies, you may wish to consider medical treatments.

Corticosteroid injections

Your doctor may recommend corticosteroid injections. They will inject a high dose of corticosteroids at the site of the pain.

Possible complications of corticosteroid injections in the heel include heel fat pad atrophy and rupture of the plantar fascia. Your doctor will be able to explain the risk of complications and answer any questions you may have.

Botulinum toxin injections

Botulinum toxin injections may help alleviate plantar fasciitis pain.

A small 2017 study monitored 50 participants with plantar fasciitis over 6 and 12 months. Half of the participants received an incobotulinumtoxinA (IBTA) injection and the other half received a placebo saline injection. The participants who received the IBTA injection reported reduced foot pain and an increase in foot function.

Your doctor will be able to advise on the suitability of botulinum toxin injections as part of your plantar fasciitis treatment.

Shockwave therapy 

Shockwave therapy may help you manage pain caused by plantar fasciitis. A 2020 study found that shockwave therapy can help reduce pain and improve the function of the foot.

However, as a 2017 study points out, there are different kinds of shockwave therapy. This includes extracorporeal shockwave therapy, focused shockwave, and radial shockwave. More research is needed into which type of shockwave therapy is most effective for plantar fasciitis.

Surgery for plantar fasciitis

Up to 98% of people can manage plantar fasciitis without surgery, according to the AAOS. However, your doctor may consider surgery if your symptoms do not respond to other treatments within 6–12 months.

There are different types of plantar fasciitis surgery, namely gastrocnemius recession surgery and plantar fascia release surgery.

Gastrocnemius recession surgery

Gastrocnemius recession surgery involves lengthening one of the calf muscles. This can help improve flexibility in your foot, allowing you to stretch and relax your plantar fascia more easily.

Your surgeon will perform gastrocnemius recession surgery either with a small incision and an endoscope or with an open incision. They will be able to answer any questions and advise on what to expect during recovery.

Plantar fascia release surgery

Your doctor may recommend plantar fascia surgery if you have a typical range of motion in your ankle but if heel pain persists after nonsurgical treatments.

The procedure involves partially cutting the fascia ligament. This helps loosen tension in the band of tissue.

It can take up to 6 weeks for the plantar fascia to heal following surgery. You may need to wear a walker boot during recovery to reduce pressure on the foot.

Your doctor will be able to advise on which type of surgery they recommend if nonsurgical therapies do not alleviate plantar fascia pain.

When should I contact a doctor?

Contact your doctor for advice if you experience frequent or persistent foot pain. They will be able to carry out a physical exam and they may refer you to a specialist.

If you currently receive treatment for plantar fasciitis but find that your pain does not respond to the treatment, it is important to contact your doctor for advice. They will be able to inform you of other treatment options and advise on whether or not they recommend surgery.

Our Plantar Fasciitis Appointment Guide can help you prepare for your appointment.

Frequently asked questions

Here are some more frequently asked questions about plantar fasciitis and related treatments.

What is the fastest way to cure plantar fasciitis?

There is no individual fastest way to cure plantar fasciitis. Instead, you may first need to try home remedies to alleviate pain before your doctor may recommend medical treatments. Resting your feet and performing stretching exercises can help reduce pain.

How do I permanently get rid of plantar fasciitis?

You may be able to get rid of plantar fasciitis pain with home remedies such as resting, icing, and massage. However, in more severe cases — or if your pain does not respond to nonsurgical treatments — your doctor may recommend surgery to help permanently get rid of plantar fasciitis.

Can plantar fasciitis heal itself?

As plantar fasciitis typically occurs due to overuse, it may go away on its own with enough rest and gentle stretching exercises to prevent the plantar fascia from stiffening. However, you should contact your doctor for advice if you have concerns about plantar fasciitis, as they will be able to offer advice on treatments to help speed recovery.

Learn more

Summary

Plantar fasciitis occurs as a result of inflammation of the plantar fascia. It typically happens as a result of overuse, so it is important to rest your feet when possible and not overexert them.

There are various home remedies that can help alleviate plantar fascia pain. This includes stretching exercises, icing, and massage. You can also take over-the-counter pain relief.

If your plantar fasciitis does not respond to home remedies, your doctor may recommend medical treatments or surgery. Medical treatments include shockwave therapy and injections of corticosteroids or botulinum toxin. Surgery includes plantar fascia release surgery and gastrocnemius recession surgery.

Contact your doctor if you experience plantar fascia pain or any other foot pain. They will be able to advise on the right treatments for you to alleviate pain and encourage healing.

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Medical Reviewer: Adam Hotchkiss, DPM
Last Review Date: 2022 Oct 27
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