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Reducing inflammation in the plantar fascia ligament is an important part of treatment, but this doesn’t address the underlying damage to the ligament.
Initial home treatment includes staying off your feet and applying ice for 15 to 20 minutes, three or four times per day to reduce swelling. You can also try reducing or changing your exercise activities. Using arch supports in your shoes and doing stretching exercises may also help to relieve pain.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) and naproxen (Aleve), often reduce inflammation in the ligament.
If home treatments and over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory drugs don’t ease the pain, an injection of a corticosteroid directly into the damaged section of the ligament can help. Your doctor can do this in their office. Your doctor may use an ultrasound device to help determine the best place for the injection. Your doctor can also apply corticosteroids to the skin of your heel or the arch of your foot, and then apply a painless electrical current to let the steroid pass through your skin and into the muscle.
Physical therapy is an important part of treatment for plantar fasciitis. It can help stretch your plantar fascia and Achilles tendons. A physical therapist can also show you exercises to strengthen your lower leg muscles, helping to stabilize your walk and lessen the workload on your plantar fascia.
If pain continues and other methods aren’t working, your doctor may recommend extracorporeal shock wave therapy. In this therapy, sound waves bombard your heel to stimulate healing within the ligament. This treatment can result in:
It hasn’t been proven to be consistently effective in relieving symptoms.
The most dramatic therapy, used only in cases in which pain is very severe, is surgery. Your surgeon can partially detach the plantar fascia from the heel bone, but this weakens the arch of the foot and full function may be lost. Another surgery involves lengthening the calf muscle. This process is called gastrocnemius recession.
Braces and Supports
Night splints are another treatment that can help stretch your calf and the arch of your foot. Night splints are a type of brace that holds your foot in a flexed position and lengthens the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon overnight. This can prevent morning pain and stiffness.
Special orthotics, or arch supports, for your shoes may help alleviate some of the pain by distributing pressure, and they can prevent further damage to the plantar fascia. A boot cast may immobilize your foot and reduce strain while the plantar fascia heals. You can remove the boot cast, which looks like a ski boot, for bathing.