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Treating Plantar Fasciitis or Heel Spurs

Plantar fasciitis is a painful, sometimes debilitation condition. To learn more about what it is and some prevention tips, read What is Plantar Fasciitis?.

Once you have it, what can you do to make that awful pain just go away?

Ice. Ice. More Ice. Ice is great for reducing inflammation. Place a covered ice pack on your foot for 20 minutes several times a day. Try freezing a can of food (I used beans). You can then roll your foot back & forth across the frozen can for cooling and massaging. If the rolling seems to help, use a tennis ball or rolling pin (yes, like you use for pie crust) during the times you are not icing. Ice your foot every few hours throughout the day, and especially after exercise or anytime it is hurting.

Take ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory drugs for the pain and swelling. Follow package directions or your doctorís orders and do not overuse. I also sometimes use arnica cream, a homeopathic remedy which is good for muscle pain.

Rest. For a few days or even a couple of weeks, lay off strenuous activities. That includes weight lifting as many exercises, like squats, can put a lot of pressure on the bottom of your feet. Regardless of your exercise routine, try to take a few rest days and give your foot time to heal. Swimming is recommended as an alternate exercise when you have PF.

Try arch supports, heel cushions or other orthotic devices for your shoes. Extra cushioning will help protect your injury and the support can help prevent a recurrence. You can buy a wide variety of supports in the foot care section of drugstores, or have a podiatrist make custom supports for you. Try over-the-counter versions first and if they are helpful, custom orthotics may work even better.

Stretch. Stretching your calf muscles and arches can help heal and prevent plantar fasciitis.

A very helpful stretch for PF is to cross your legs, with the painful foot resting on the opposite knee. Then, grab the top of your foot and gently pull it back, stretching the fascia. While you are holding your foot in the stretched position, massage the fascia. This stretch/massage is particularly helpful at easing the pain and helping you get rid of it sooner. In medical tests, it proved very effective. Try doing it a couple times a day.

I also use an incline board for stretching, especially after working out. Itís a simple plywood board that I lean against a brick. I stand on it for several minutes to stretch my calves. The Pro-Stretch (see link below) is another good stretching tool.

Try stretching before you get out of bed in the morning, too. Just bend your foot and pull your toes toward your knee, hold for a few seconds and repeat a couple of times before you first stand up. You can also massage the soles of your feet before you get up.

Night splints. There are several night braces designed to hold your foot at an almost 90 degree angle while you sleep. This prevents the fascia from contracting or shortening during the night, which is what causes the awful first-thing-in-the-morning pain. This contracting and then stepping also worsens the injury. If you wear a splint and avoid the contracting, your foot heals more quickly.

Cortisone injections: Your doctor may suggest cortisone injections into your foot at the site of the pain. These injections are usually pretty effective, but they are also quite painful. There is some indication that the sooner you get cortisone injections, the better they will work. Your doctor may also recommend a round of oral steroids to reduce the inflammation, and they can also work pretty well.

Surgery: It is not often recommended, but surgery is an option. My general advice on surgery is to try to avoid it, consider it a last resort, try every other treatment option first, and certainly get a second or even third opinion.

You can heal your plantar fasciitis, and usually without resorting to the painful shots or surgery. If you are diligent about icing and stretching, you can probably get rid of it and keep it from recurring.

The Pro-Stretch is highly recommended and it works:



This portable ice massager is great for taking with you. You can ice anywhere.


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