Harvard Men's Health Watch

Best steps to soothe heel pain

Self-help steps can often chase away plantar fasciitis. For tough cases, make surgery your last option.

Plantar fasciitis is a common and painful overuse injury. It happens when the tough band of connecting tissue on the underside of the foot (the plantar fascia) develops tiny tears where it attaches to the heel bone. The good news is that plantar fasciitis usually gets better after a brief period of basic at-home care. "With rest, stretching, and avoiding the activity that is bothering you, it can go away in a couple of weeks," says Dr. A. Holly Johnson, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle problems at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. "Sometimes it can take a few months for the pain to settle down, however."

For pain lasting longer than three months, you may need to seek the help of a physician or physical therapist. Surgery and other medical treatments for chronic plantar fasciitis are more costly and potentially less successful, so always try the conservative route first.

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