Physiotherapy Q&A: how can I ease the pain under my foot?

‘I have recently started to develop pain under my right foot which is especially painful when I have been walking for more than 30 minutes. I have seen my GP who has diagnosed it as Plantar fasciitis and has advised regular paracetamol and restricting how long I walk for. Is there anything else I could do to get rid of this pain as it is really starting to limit what I can do?’

Plantar fasciitis is a condition where the strong band of tissue (fascia) that runs from the heel to the base of your toes becomes inflamed. The Plantar fascia’s role is to help to support the arch of the foot during weight bearing, and this bow-string like structure adds a spring to each step. If this structure is stressed over a period of time, small tears can occur, leading to pain under the foot.

Usually, the pain will ease in time, but there are certain treatments that should help to speed up the recovery:

  • Try to rest the foot as much as possible, avoiding running and excessive walking and standing
  • Choose cushioned footwear with a good arch support and avoid walking barefoot on hard surfaces
  • Paracetamol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and ice packs can also be used to reduce the pain.
  • Small heel inserts or wedges to raise the heel by about 1cm can help off load the painful area

The long term prognosis for plantar fasciitis is good and it is suggested most cases will improve within 3-6 months. However, if this condition is limiting your daily life you may want to see a Physiotherapist who can help with taping, providing specific stretches and exercises to help as well as provide advice on orthotics. If the problem still persists it is important to consider losing some weight if you are overweight as this condition is heavily affected by the weight that you put through the foot. 

Corticosteroid injections or extra-corporeal shock wave therapy may be considered for symptoms lasting longer than 6 months if all other measures have been tried and have not resolved the problem.