How to help your plantar fascia heal

Q. I have had pain in my heel for the last two months. It bothers me most when I wake up in the morning. After I have moved around and have taken a hot shower, it feels better. If I am standing on it for a long period of time, it also starts to ache. When I am playing sports it bothers me some but is worse when I finish. I was looking online and it sounded like I may have plantar fascitis. What should I do?

A. Plantar fascia is the medical name for the arch of your foot. The area that is usually injured is the part where the arch begins as it attaches to the heel bone. The plantar fascia at that point has a poor micro-circulation and when injured it is very slow to heal.

Plantar fascitis can be very painful, particularly when waking up in the morning or after resting after extended exercise. Treatment usually includes anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, stretching and a night splint to stretch the plantar fascia out while sleeping. Also, a small air bladder known as an air heel can afford relief for many patients and can be worn in your shoe or sneaker. If these treatments fail, then injections, high-energy shock-wave therapy known as “OssaTron” or in rare circumstances, surgical release, may be necessary.

Acute tears of the plantar fascia can occur while playing sports and are very common in athletes who have had prior plantar fascitis symptoms. Essentially when tearing the plantar fascia, the athlete has done their own surgical release, and although the area will be acutely painful for a couple of weeks, usually it will get better and not be a chronic long-term problem.

I recommend you see an orthopedic surgeon or foot specialist to determine whether this is in fact a correct diagnosis as well as plan a treatment program that can keep you participating in sports and help you heal.

Dr. Harlan Selesnick is team physician of the Miami Heat and director of Miami Sports Medicine Fellowship, Doctors Hospital. Send your questions to

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