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Plantar Fasciitis (cont.)

Prevention

The following steps will help prevent plantar fasciitis or help keep the condition from getting worse if you already have it:

  • Take care of your feet. Wear shoes with good arch support and heel cushioning. If your work requires you to stand on hard surfaces, stand on a thick rubber mat to reduce stress on your feet.
  • Do exercises to stretch the Achilles tendon at the back of the heel. This is especially important before sports, but it is helpful for nonathletes as well. Ask your doctor about recommendations for a stretching routine.
  • Stay at a healthy weight for your height.
  • Establish good exercise habits. Increase your exercise levels gradually, and wear supportive shoes.
  • If you run, alternate running with other sports that will not cause heel pain.
  • Put on supportive shoes as soon as you get out of bed. Going barefoot or wearing slippers puts stress on your feet.

If you feel that work activities caused your heel pain, ask your human resources department for information about different ways of doing your job that will not make your heel pain worse. If you are involved in sports, you may want to consult a sports training specialist for training and conditioning programs to prevent plantar fasciitis from recurring.

Home Treatment

The first steps your doctor will recommend to treat plantar fasciitis are ones you can take yourself. Different people find that one method or a combination of methods works best for them.

Try the following methods:

  • Rest your feet. Stop or reduce any activities that may be causing your heel pain.
  • Wear supportive footwear. Wear shoes that have good arch support and heel cushioning. Or buy shoe inserts (orthoticsClick here to see an illustration.). Shoe inserts may be made of plastic, rubber, or felt. Orthotics can reduce stress and pulling on the plantar fascia ligamentClick here to see an illustration..
  • Use ice on your heel. Ice can help reduce inflammation. Contrast baths, which alternate hot and cold water, can also be helpful. Heat alone may make symptoms worse for some people. So always end a contrast bath with a soak in cold water. If ice isn't helping after 2 or 3 days, try heat, such as a heating pad set on low.
  • Take ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin), naproxen (such as Aleve), aspirin, or another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to reduce pain and inflammation. NSAIDs come in pills and in a cream that you rub over the sore area.
  • Wear night splintsClick here to see an illustration.. Night splints gently stretch the plantar fascia ligament and Achilles tendon and keep them from getting tight during the night.
  • Do stretching and strengthening exercises. Exercises for stretching the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia will increase their flexibility. Exercises to strengthen the muscles of the foot and ankle will help support the arch. For more information, see:
    Click here to view an Actionset.Plantar Fasciitis: Exercises to Relieve Pain.

Often athletes develop foot problems because they train in shoes that are worn out or don't fit properly. Replace your shoes every few months, because the padding wears out. Also, replace shoes if the tread or heels are worn down. While replacing shoes is expensive, it is less expensive—and less painful—than a long-lasting heel problem. Other sensible training techniques, such as avoiding uneven or hard surfaces, can help prevent plantar fasciitis from occurring or returning.

If your weight is putting extra stress on your feet, your doctor may encourage you to try a weight-loss program.

To be successful at treating plantar fasciitis, you will need to:

  • Be patient and consistent. The majority of cases of plantar fasciitis go away in time if you regularly stretch, wear good shoes, and rest your feet so they can heal.
  • Start treatment right away. Don't just ignore the pain and hope it will go away. The longer you wait to begin treatment, the longer it will take for your feet to stop hurting.

The healing process takes time—from a few months to a year. But you should begin to have less pain within weeks of starting treatment. If you have not improved after trying these methods for 6 weeks, your doctor will suggest other treatments.

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