Plantar Fasciitis (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Exams and Tests
To diagnose plantar fasciitis, your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and your past health. He or she will also do a physical exam of your feet that includes watching you stand and walk.
X-rays are not helpful in diagnosing plantar fasciitis, because they do not show ligaments clearly. But your doctor might take X-rays if he or she suspects a stress fracture, bone cyst, or other foot or ankle bone problems. X-rays may show whether a heel spur is present, but a bone spur does not necessarily mean that a person has plantar fasciitis.
If the diagnosis is not clear, you may have other tests. Tests that are done in rare cases include MRI, blood tests, bone scans, and vascular testing, which can evaluate blood flow in the foot and lower leg. If your doctor suspects nerve entrapment, you may have neurological testing.
The goals of treatment for plantar fasciitis are to:
Most people recover completely within a year. Out of 100 people with plantar fasciitis, about 95 are able to relieve their heel pain with nonsurgical treatments. Only about 5 out of 100 need surgery.1
Treatment that you start when you first notice symptoms is more successful and takes less time than treatment that is delayed.
There are many methods you can try to relieve the heel pain of plantar fasciitis. Even though their effectiveness has not been proved in scientific studies, these methods, used alone or in combination, work for most people.2
Avoid using only heat on your foot, such as from a heating pad or a heat pack for at least the first 2 or 3 days. Heat tends to make symptoms worse for some people. If you use contrast baths, which alternate hot and cold water, make sure you end with a soak in cold water. If you try a heating pad, use a low setting.
If your weight is putting extra stress on your feet, your doctor may encourage you to try a weight-loss program.
If nonsurgical methods such as rest, ice, and stretching exercises help relieve your plantar fasciitis symptoms, continue using them. If you have not improved after 6 weeks, your doctor may recommend that you continue those methods but add other nonsurgical treatments, such as:
Formal physical therapy instruction can help make sure you properly stretch your Achilles tendon and plantar fascia ligament. Doctors usually consider surgery only for severe cases that do not improve.
Treatment if the condition gets worse
Your doctor may suggest corticosteroid shots if you have tried nonsurgical treatment for several weeks without success.1 Shots can relieve pain, but the relief is often short-term. Also, the shots themselves can be painful, and repeated shots can damage the heel pad and the plantar fascia.
Out of 100 people with plantar fasciitis, about 95 are able to relieve their heel pain with nonsurgical treatments. Only about 5 out of 100 need surgery.1 If you are one of the few people whose symptoms don't improve in 6 to 12 months with other treatments, your doctor may recommend plantar fascia release surgery. Plantar fascia release involves cutting part of the plantar fascia ligament in order to release the tension and relieve the inflammation of the ligament. For more information on surgery, see:
What to think about
If you are trying to lose weight and you develop plantar fasciitis when you begin exercising, especially jogging, talk with your doctor about other types of activity that will support your weight-loss efforts without making your heel pain worse. An activity like swimming that doesn't put stress on your feet may be a good choice.
If your plantar fasciitis is related to sports or your job, you may have trouble stopping or reducing your activity to allow your feet to heal. But resting your feet is very important to avoid long-lasting heel pain. Your doctor or a sports medicine specialist may be able to suggest a plan for alternating your regular activities with ones that do not make your pain worse.
Some questions you may want to ask about exercise include:
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Find out what women really need.
Pill Identifier on RxList
- quick, easy,
Find a Local Pharmacy
- including 24 hour, pharmacies