FAQs About Plantar Fasciitis Treatment

Do you have plantar fasciitis? You aren't alone. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), doctors treat nearly two million Americans annually for this podiatric problem. If you have a recent diagnosis, take a look at the top plantar fasciitis treatment questions answered.

Do You Really Need to Treat Plantar Fasciitis?

As the name implies, plantar fasciitis starts in the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that stretches from the heel to the toes. An inflammation of this area can cause stabbing pain in the heel—especially after periods of sleep or inactivity.

Even though the pain you feel taking your first few steps may go away after you walk or move, this doesn't mean you don't have plantar fasciitis anymore. If you have foot or heel pain, you need an exam and a doctor's diagnosis. If the podiatrist diagnoses you with this common condition, you also need treatment.

Failure to treat plantar fasciitis could leave you in pain or result in heel spurs, plantar fascia rupture, or non-cancerous nodules known as plantar fibromatosis. Any, or all, of these issues can interfere with your daily life and make it difficult to walk, exercise, or move your feet.

Will You Need Surgery to Treat Plantar Fasciitis?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Some patients will need surgery—but others won't. The decision to choose a surgical option depends on factors such as the severity of your pain, range of motion, the length of treatment time, and your overall health.

Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen or naproxen), physical therapy, targeted exercises and stretches, ice, night splints, orthotics, shoe changes, and cortisone injections are non-surgical options. These types of treatments help more than 90 percent of patients find plantar fasciitis relief within 10 months, according to the AAOS.

What Are the Surgical Treatment Options?

If medication or physical therapy treatments don't work, you may need to explore surgical options. Your doctor may want you to wait and try non-surgical methods for a year or more before discussing surgery.

Common surgical treatments for plantar fasciitis include gastrocnemius recession and plantar fascia release. Gastrocnemius recession is a surgical lengthening of the calf. A tight calf muscle puts additional stress on the plantar fascia. This type of procedure releases the pressure through either a traditional open incision surgery or an endoscopic method.

Patients who can move their feet, but still feel heel pain, may need a plantar fascia release. The surgeon will partially cut the plantar fascia ligament, releasing the excess tension. This should eliminate the remaining heel pain.