Bone & Joint | Fitness
August 24, 2016

My heel hurts! All about plantar fasciitis


A sharp ache in the heel or sole, especially in the morning, is the hallmark of this common problem.


The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot from the heel to the base of the toes. It provides support and stability. When the weight of your body moves to the balls of your feet, the plantar fascia stretches. When this fascia becomes irritated and inflamed, it is called plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is very common — and unfortunately, rather painful. Here’s what you should know.

What causes plantar fasciitis?

  • Forceful extension of toes (flexing your feet) against a hard surface.
  • Shoes that don’t support or fit your feet appropriately.
  • Running with poor technique.
  • Obesity.
  • Flat feet.
  • High arches.

What are the symptoms?

  • Pain, especially near the heel.
  • Pain that eases up with rest.
  • Pain that’s most obvious first thing in the morning.
  • Pain with walking, especially in the part of your stride when you’re pushing off your toes.

How to treat plantar fasciitis?

  • Ice your pained foot with an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas a few times per day.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Wear athletic shoes. Shoe inserts may help too. See a podiatrist (foot doctor) to find out which type of inserts will work best for you.
  • Use anti-inflammatory pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Roll a tennis ball or a sturdy can under your sore foot. Apply firm pressure as you roll.
  • Stretch the plantar fascia, especially before getting out of bed in the morning. Extend your leg out straight, grasp the toes of your pained foot and gently pull your toes toward you to stretch out the tissue along the bottom of your foot. If you have trouble reaching your toes, try looping a towel or scarf around your toes, grasp the ends of the towel and gently pull them toward you to stretch the bottom of your foot.
  • Severe cases of plantar fasciitis should be treated by a podiatrist. Very few people need surgery to treat this problem, but it may be necessary if other treatment doesn’t help and the symptoms get worse.

Sports Medicine, Physical Therapy

13 thoughts on “My heel hurts! All about plantar fasciitis”

  1. Patricia Greene says:

    The best thing to do for this very painful condition is go to an orthopedic doctor and get it injected. The injection is given softer the heel is numbed.
    I am a nurse and went two months of trying different stuff. Then I went to an orthopedic. Haven’t had any problems since.

    1. Maura Ammenheuser says:

      Yes, this is one treatment for plantar fasciitis. Others might find relief from the do-it-yourself methods mentioned in this post. If they’re not helping, people should talk to a podiatrist about the best treatment for their own case. Thanks for sharing, and I’m glad you got some relief!

    2. Kristi B says:

      The first time I had an injection it worked for a few months. Then the pain came back. My next 2 injections didn’t even touch the pain. I ended up having surgery about a month ago. Hoping this will help, but I’m still in a lot of pain.

    3. Janet says:

      6 years ago I woke up one morning in January and could hardly walk. Never had a problem before. I tried all the home remedies. Finally in May I went to a podiatrist. Did the exercises. Took the injections in both feet x3. Went for physical therapy for 3 weeks. All the while getting worse. Lost sleep. Had to cancel vacations. Finally after 7 months of excruciating pain, I had surgery on one foot the surgery on the other 2 months later. I had immediate relief and wished I had had the surgery much sooner. I realize this is not the norm for most people. I have no idea why suddenly I was stricken. I am very pain tolerant. But this was horrible. I still have a little trouble now an then, but NOTHING like it was.

  2. Julie Wilson says:

    I had plantar fasciitis for almost 2 years and was unable to walk without atrocious pain that, I guess, most of you are dealing with on daily basis. Physiotherapy, acupuncture, orthotics helped me a bit but the result was temporary. The situation was really bad and I didn’t know what to do back then. However, one day I scrolled through facebook and accidentally found an alternative treatment. It’s an e-book that was created by former chronic plantar fasciitis sufferer. He claimed that he cured his PF permanently in one week at his home. I was skeptical about it, but I had nothing to lose, so I gave it a go (by the way, you can find it here: After reading it, I didn’t believe that some specific exercises and home remedies can help me to deal with plantar fasciitis, but I started following it and surprisingly after few days my pain was almost gone! It didn’t last long until my PF went away permanently! So from now on, I recommend everyone who have plantar fasciitis to do specific exercises and try some alternative treatments 😉

    1. Maura Ammenheuser says:

      I’m glad you found some relief. Thanks for sharing what worked for you.

  3. Mandy M. says:

    Injections were the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life, and didn’t help me that much. What does help, and has got it under control, is hanging my heals down off a step. Every time I go up any stairs, I stop for a few seconds, but the ball of my feet at the edge, and drop my heals towards the lower step. The pain comes back only if it’s been awhile since my last stretch.

    1. Mandy M. says:

      Dang it autocorrect. I do know how to spell heels.

  4. Gina says:

    I was treated by various Dr’s with this and keep getting worse. Finally went to Tulane Sports Clinic when I could not walk without walker. Everything I was told was completely wrong and causing y condition worse. Tarsal tunnel syndrone has systems very close to this so don’t be fooled it is plantar fasciitis. Make sure you are diagnosed correctly.

  5. Derek Mcdoogle says:

    You mentioned that when the weight of your body moves to the balls of your feet, the plantar fascia stretches. Do most podiatrists have specific treatments and techniques that they prefer when treating plantar fasciitis? While we were on our anniversary cruise my wife started complaining that her feet were experiencing some severe pain. Going to see a reputable foot doctor might be a good idea.

  6. Marc Mitnick DPM says:

    Many people make the mistake in lumping all heel pain as “plantar fasciitis”. Although it is the most common cause of heel pain, it is not the only cause.
    For any one suffering from heel pain which has not responded to all the standard treatments (cortisone injections, orthotics, anti-inflammatory medication, stretching, etc.) I would recommend at the very least an ultrasound but probably an MRI to rule out a plantar fascial tear and other possible pathologies.

  7. Karen W Hughes says:

    I had plantar fasciitis first in one foot then the other. Nothing worked until a doctor who had nothing to do with feet said “Oh, you need night boots”. He prescribed boots worn at night that hold the foot in 90 degree bend with respect to the leg. Worked for both feet and for a friend of mine who also had the condition. It has never come back. I’m sure there is no universal cure but this worked for me.

  8. Ellie Davis says:

    My daughter has been complaining about pain near her heel. Thank you for pointing out that this could be plantar fasciitis. I’ll have to do some research and find the best podiatrist in our area to help her.

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