Plantar Fasciitis

Live your best life, without heel pain.

Persistent heel pain could indicate plantar fasciitis. To know for sure and prevent the development of a serious foot condition, get evaluated as early as possible. The foot and ankle specialists at Henry Ford Health System can examine your foot and design a care plan customized to your unique needs.

Plantar fasciitis care: Why choose Henry Ford?

Henry Ford is a regional leader in foot and ankle care. People turn to us because we deliver the most innovative treatments, with a compassionate, personalized approach. We offer:

  • More treatment options: We offer a wide range of treatments for plantar fasciitis and related foot conditions. Nonsurgical therapies and minimally invasive surgeries mean the people we help have multiple options for pain relief.
  • Experienced team: Our foot and ankle team includes orthopedic surgeons, podiatric surgeons and podiatrists. You get access to a highly experienced team that brings together doctors from multiple specialties. Meet our foot and ankle team.
  • Coverage for all foot conditions: We offer treatment for both common and complex foot conditions. For some people, plantar fasciitis is accompanied by another foot issue such as a complication from diabetes. In those situations, they can get all their care from one source.

What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the ligament on the bottom of the foot. This band of tissue, called the plantar fascia, supports the arch of the foot. Excessive running, jumping and other forms of stress can damage the ligament and cause irritation. High arches, flat feet and tight calf muscles can also lead to plantar fasciitis. (Learn more about flat feet and high arches.)

Watch as foot surgeon Dr. Nicole Brouyette explains plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis symptoms

Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:

  • Bony bumps on the heel (heel spurs)
  • Foot pain first thing in the morning
  • Persistent heel pain, especially after exercise
  • Tightness in the calf

Left untreated, plantar fasciitis can lead to other long-term foot problems such as Achilles tendon pain or stress fractures. If the condition changes the way you walk, you can also develop pain in your hips and back.

Plantar fasciitis treatment

The earlier plantar fasciitis is treated, the more likely it is that a conservative approach can heal the condition. The foot and ankle specialists at Henry Ford offer a wide range of nonsurgical treatments, including:

  • Custom orthotics
  • Physical therapy
  • Soft cast or boot
  • Splints
  • Steroid injections
  • Microdebridement, a way to clean the joint of damaged tissue

Plantar fasciitis surgery

We usually only suggest surgery for plantar fasciitis if foot pain still persists after a year of conservative treatments. If you’re a candidate for surgery, the type of procedure we recommend depends on your exact diagnosis and your goals for recovery. We offer:

  • Gastrocnemius recession: The calf muscle is surgically lengthened to take pressure off the plantar fascia and increase ankle mobility.
  • Plantar fascia release: The plantar fascia ligament is partially cut to relieve tension and inflammation.

Minimally invasive, arthroscopic plantar fasciitis surgery

We can often perform plantar fasciitis surgery with a minimally invasive approach called arthroscopy. Using a small incision, your surgeon inserts a tiny video camera (arthroscope) into the foot or calf. The camera allows the surgeon to operate without making a large incision or cutting soft tissue.

Whether you’re considering traditional open surgery or a minimally invasive approach, discuss the risks and benefits with your surgeon. At Henry Ford, our foot and ankle specialists explain the procedures and what recovery involves. We believe that having realistic expectations leads to the most positive and productive surgical outcomes.

Plantar fasciitis treatment options

Our podiatrists (foot care doctors) typically recommend conservative treatment first, such as:

  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Applying ice to the painful area twice daily for 10 to 15 minutes (or more often in the first few days)
  • Exercises to stretch the heel and foot
  • Resting the foot as much as possible for at least a week
  • Wearing a heel cup, felt pads in the heel area, or shoe inserts to alleviate pressure
  • Wearing a splint while sleeping to stretch the foot
  • Wearing shoes with good support and cushioning

If these treatments do not work, your doctor may recommend:

  • Custom-made shoe inserts (orthotics)
  • Steroid shots or injections into the heel to reduce inflammation
  • Wearing a boot cast, which looks like a ski boot, for three to six weeks

In severe cases, foot surgery may be needed to cure plantar fasciitis.

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