Whether your plantar fasciitis pain is nuisance level or sheer agony, if you have it, you just want to know two things: How long does plantar fasciitis last and how can you heal it quickly? There are plenty of things you can do to relieve the pain and even some steps you can take to make sure it doesn't come back. Never fear, there is an end in sight.
The Basics ---
- Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the band of tissue (the plantar fascia) that supports the arch of your foot. The pain is usually worse in the morning when you're taking your first steps.
- Minimizing plantar fasciitis pain involves ice, stretching and pain relievers. To keep plantar fasciitis from coming back, you have to treat the root cause.
- For effective treatment of plantar fasciitis, firm insoles that match the contour of your arch work best. Soft foam insoles don't have enough structure to support the plantar fascia, letting it heal.
- We recommend Tread Labs Pace Insoles for plantar fasciitis. Pace insoles are available in four arch heights so you can find one that fits your foot perfectly.
What You Need To Know ---
In this post, we'll cover everything you need to know about plantar fasciitis, including:
- Causes and risk factors
- How to heal plantar fasciitis
- When to see a doctor
- How to prevent plantar fasciitis from reoccurring
What Are Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms?
Plantar fasciitis is a painful inflammation of the band of tissue (the plantar fascia) that supports the arch of your foot. The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain and stiffness on the bottom of your heel, not in your arch. Pain can:
- Be dull or sharp
- Feel like a deep ache or give off a burning sensation
- Develop slowly over time
- Come on suddenly, particularly after intense activities
Pain is often notably worse in the morning, decreasing as the day continues and your foot and arch limber up. However, you will also feel pain:
- After prolonged periods of standing or sitting
- When going up stairs
- After intense activities like walking, running, or jumping
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
It is common to get plantar fasciitis if you have certain conditions or engage in certain sports or recreational activities. Risk factors can be anatomical, biomechanical or environmental. They include:
- Flat feet (pes planus)
- High arches (pes cavus)
- Fat pad atrophy
- Leg length discrepancy
- Shortened Achilles tendon
- Limited ankle mobility
- Weak muscles
If you are suffering from plantar fasciitis, you have any of these risk factors and are suffering from
What's The Best Treatment For Plantar Fasciitis?
According to Harvard Medical School, most plantar fasciitis improves with home-based treatments. While you'll want to avoid activities that put excessive strain on the heel, like jumping or running, make sure you don't stop exercising entirely. Inactivity can result in your plantar fascia stiffening, making it painful when you start to move around.
To minimize plantar fasciitis symptoms and heal your plantar fascia, use this 3-step approach:
- Reduce inflammation.
- Stretch and strengthen the ankle, foot, and calf muscles.
- Protect the plantar fascia from further trauma.
Step 1: Reduce Inflammation
The inflammation and pain caused by plantar fasciitis can be excruciating. To provide short-term relief from the pain, podiatrists and orthopedists recommend the following remedies:
- Non-steroidal pain relievers
- Night splints
- Foot massages
Ice Your Foot
Ice your foot several times a day for 15-20 minutes each time; here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
- Fill a paper cup with water and freeze it. When ready, peel off the top part of the paper and rub the cup along the arch and heel.
- Rest the arch and heel on an ice pack.
- Bags of frozen vegetables such as peas or corn work well as they contour to the heel and arch.
- You can also place your foot in contrast baths – going back and forth between hot and cold water, but always ending with cold water as heat can aggravate the pain. Changes in temperature change blood movement, which can help reduce inflammation and swelling. It can also help improve overall range of motion in the area.
Non-Steroidal Pain Relievers (NSAIDS)
Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as:
- Ibuprofen (Advil) - Reduces inflammation and pain. Acts quickly and doesn't stay in the body too long.
- Naproxen (Aleve) - Also reduces inflammation and pain. Is a longer-acting drug than ibuprofen, meaning you don't have to take as many for the same results.
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) - Not the best choice for treating plantar fasciitis as it doesn't relieve inflammation.
This splint stretches your calf muscles and maintains your foot (and plantar fascia) in an extended position with your toes pointed up while you sleep.
Rest Your Foot
No one wants to hear it, but for full recovery, you'll probably have to avoid the activities that are aggravating your pain. Lay off running or basketball for now. Try swimming, cycling or other non-impact exercises while you recover.
Step 2: Stretch and Strengthen
Think of the plantar fascia as a big rubber band that stretches from the heel to the toe, supporting the arch of your foot. Both it – and the other rubber bands it connects to – need to be flexible to avoid snapping.
And like the plantar fascia, the tendons and muscles that connect to it also need to be flexible. Stretching will help loosen the fascia, tendons, and muscles that all contribute to plantar fasciitis. We recommend stretching 2 to 4 times per day with these exercises:
Fascia stretch – From a seated position, stretch the unaffected leg straight out in front of you. Bend the other leg and put your foot against the inside of your extended knee. Pull your toes back towards your shin bone for 10 to 15 seconds. You should feel a stretch in your arch. Repeat on the other side. If you are flexible enough, stretch both legs straight out in front of you with your heels on the floor. With your toes pointing straight up, grab the toes and pull them back towards the shin bones.
Achilles tendon stretch – Stand on a step. Relax your calf muscles, and slowly let your heels down over the edge of the step for 10 to 15 seconds. You should feel the stretch along the Achilles tendon.
Calf muscle stretch – Stand with one foot about 12 inches in front of the other. Point the toes of the back foot towards the heel of the front and lean towards a wall. Keep your back leg straight and bend your front one, keeping both heels firmly planted on the floor. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
As Joy Rowland, DPM, says: “Stretching is a big part of treatment for plantar fasciitis. We have to allow that ligament to stretch rather than pull.”
Physical therapy can be very effective for increasing range of motion and muscle strength. The Achilles tendon connects the fascia to the calf muscles. If any of these are tight, they will pull on the plantar fascia. In fact, almost 80% of people who suffer from plantar fasciitis have tight Achilles tendons or “heel cords.”
Step 3: Protect Your Plantar Fascia For Long-Term Comfort
Because biomechanical irregularities like flat feet, high arches, and overpronation can lead to plantar fasciitis, correcting these foot problems and supporting the arch are key to avoiding pain.
Strong arch support is critical to both treatment and prevention of plantar fasciitis. Scientific studies have found that insoles – especially with firm support – reduce pain levels related to plantar fasciitis symptoms.
Insoles can both help treat and prevent the development of plantar fasciitis:
Treat – Insoles with strong arch support will reduce the weight bearing load of the in the plantar fascia, allowing it to heal.
Prevent – Insoles that properly support the arch lengthwise prevent overpronation, a cause of plantar fasciitis.
Not all insoles are made the same. While your foot may be screaming for comfort, what it really needs is structural support. Soft, cushioned insoles will provide temporary relief. But they won't correct the overpronation that leads to plantar fasciitis.
How Long Does Plantar Fasciitis Last?
More than 95% of people with plantar fasciitis are able to recover within 6 months of onset with the use of home treatments. While half a year may seem like a long time, it's nothing compared to the recovery time of surgery.
If you are experiencing plantar fasciitis symptoms and they don't go away after several weeks of home remedies, it is time to get an accurate diagnosis from a podiatrist or orthopedist, and in some cases, a physical therapist.
When visiting your doctor, you can expect they will conduct a thorough physical exam, maybe take an X-Ray (looking for bone spurs), and likely give you treatment options similar to what we have outlined above. They might prescribe an orthotic or ask to you purchase insoles.
If you have been suffering from plantar fasciitis for more than 3-12 months, consider more aggressive measures if home remedies have not worked. Additional treatments like steroid injections, extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT), and even surgery are possibilities.
How Can I Prevent Plantar Fasciitis?
Preventing plantar fasciitis comes down to taking good care of your feet, maintaining flexibility, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly. Once your symptoms go away, you can go back to your normal lifestyle. Here are some tips to prevent plantar fasciitis:
- Take care of your feet - Buy well-fitting shoes with plenty of support and stability. Supplement their existing arch support with arch support insoles or custom orthotics.
- Maintain flexibility - Even if you're not an athlete, you should stretch your calves and Achilles tendon daily.
- Maintain a healthy weight - If weight was a factor in the development of plantar fasciitis, this is extra important.
- Exercise regularly - Make sure you find time in your busy schedule to exercise. But remember, always start a new plan gradually and wear correct gear. If you tend to only run, try mixing-up your workout routine. Add a couple days of swimming or biking to offset the wear and tear your feet experience while hitting the pavement.
Plantar fasciitis can be painful – and annoying – but with the proper treatment and the implementation of preventative measures, you won't have to experience it again.
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