Treatments for Painful Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of foot pain, and finding relief from painful symptoms can be frustrating for many patients. It is not uncommon for symptoms of heel and arch pain to persist for months after starting treatment for this condition.

The good news is that more than 90% of patients find relief of plantar fasciitis symptoms with nonsurgical treatments.

The bad news is that treatments may take months or longer to be effective, and generally, doctors don't consider treatments to be ineffective unless the symptoms persist for at least a year after starting—that's a long time to have to manage the symptoms of plantar fasciitis.

If you have been recently diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, look through the treatment options. Start simple, and don't try every treatment all at once. If you try something for a few weeks or months, and you don't notice a benefit, move on and try something else. And don't forget, almost everyone who has this condition eventually finds a treatment that provides effective relief!



woman rubbing foot on the couch
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Avoiding the activity that caused the symptoms is the first step in treatment. For example, take a few days off jogging or prolonged standing/walking. Just resting usually helps to eliminate the most severe pain, and will allow the inflammation to begin to cool down.


Ice Application

Icing will help to diminish some of the symptoms and control the heel pain. Icing is especially helpful after a sudden flare-up of symptoms. There are some creative ways to ice plantar fasciitis.


Stretches and Exercises

Exercises and stretches are designed to relax the tissues that surround the heel bone. Some simple exercises, performed in the morning and evening, often help patients feel better quickly. Many patients will work with a physical therapist, or you can try some simple activities on your own. If you need some help, meet with a therapist for a few sessions to learn a program you can continue on your own.


Anti-Inflammatory Medications

Anti-inflammatory medications help to both control pain and decrease inflammation. Over-the-counter medications are usually sufficient, but prescription options are also available. Anti-inflammatory medications can easily be used along with other treatment options.



Massaging the arch of the foot is often helpful to relieve symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Self-massage is often beneficial, and a professional massage therapist may also help significantly.


Shoe Inserts

Shoe inserts are often a key to successful treatment of plantar fasciitis. The shoe inserts often permit patients to continue their routine activities without pain. Shoe inserts that can be helpful include gel inserts, arch supports, and custom orthotics.


Night Splints

Night splints are worn to keep the heel stretched out when you sleep. By doing so, the arch of the foot does not become contracted at night and is hopefully not as painful in the morning.


Cortisone Injection

If the pain does not resolve with the above, an injection of cortisone can decrease the inflammation of plantar fasciitis. However, many physicians do not like to inject cortisone because there are potentially serious problems with cortisone injections in the heel area.

The two problems that cause concern are fat pad atrophy and plantar fascial rupture. Both of these problems occur in a very small percentage of patients, but they can cause a worsening of heel pain symptoms.


PRP Injections

PRP injections are a treatment that uses a concentrated blood injection to stimulate the body to heal the plantar fasciitis. There is limited data on the effectiveness of this treatment, but more patients are seeking out this option.​


Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy

A newer treatment for plantar fasciitis is called extracorporeal shock wave therapy, or ESWT. This treatment uses energy pulses to cause microtrauma to the tissue of the plantar fascia. This microtrauma is thought to induce a tissue repair process by the body. ESWT is recommended in patients who have failed the previously mentioned treatments, and are considering surgical options.



Surgery is seldom needed for patients with plantar fasciitis, but if patients have tried all the simple steps, and still have symptoms, it may become necessary. The surgery is called a plantar fascia release.

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Article Sources

  • Neufeld SK and Cerrato R. Plantar fasciitis: evaluation and treatment. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2008;16:338-46.