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How can I deal with heel pain from plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis stretching of the calf muscle helps improve heel pain associated with the condition.

There are many ways to help with heel pain from plantar fasciitis. First, some simple stretches at home or physical therapy will help loosen the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon and stabilize your ankle and heel. Wearing splints on your feet at night facilitates stretching of all these areas while you are sleeping. Your doctor can also help you find orthotics for your shoes in the store or refer you to an orthopedist or podiatrist for custom orthotics to help distribute pressure more evenly. If these conservative measures do not help relieve the pain there are other solutions, including steroid shots and surgery.

This is one battle you don't want to charge into. In fact, the more you rest your foot, the better, at least for a week or so. Your plantar fascia—the thick ligament connecting your heel to your toes—needs a time out, since inflammation (the "itis" in fasciitis) is often from overuse. That's why it's common in runners. A tight Achilles tendon, a high arch, wearing shoes with high heels, poor arch support or worn soles or being very overweight can take a toll on your sole, too.

Giving your foot a break doesn't mean you have to sit around. Switch to activities like swimming or rowing (indoors or out), or use weight machines that don't press on your feet. Meanwhile, these remedies will ease that hot-coals feeling in your heel:

  • Give yourself a 10- to15-minute ice massage twice a day. Roll your foot back and forth over a can of frozen juice to increase blood flow and help break down adhesions from the inflammation.
  • Take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen, for pain relief.
  • Place heel pads (you can find them at the drugstore) in your shoes.
  • Do foot stretches before you get out of bed. That will reduce the pain, which is usually worse when your feet hit the floor in the morning. To do these stretches, sit up, bend forward and try to touch your toes, curling your toes toward your knees. Or just put one leg over the knee of the other, reach for the toes on the upper leg and pull toward you. Hold for 5 minutes.
  • Stretch during the day. Put the ball of the sore foot on a step, hold the railing and let your heel hang down. Or repeat the above toe stretch.
  • Save the stilettos for weddings and parties—most short guys think plantar fasciitis is revenge for high heels.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.