The plantar fascia connects the heel bone to the toes. When small tears form in the plantar fascia, pain and inflammation occurs in the heel area; it is called plantar fasciitis. Sufferers describe it as a sharp pain in the heel. Plantar fasciitis is more common in runners, overweight people, pregnant women and people who wear shoes that don't have adequate support. A doctor can perform tests such as an X-ray or MRI to rule out that the heel pain is not caused by other problems such as a stress fracture, pinched nerve, or bone spurs.
Rest your foot. The first and simplest treatment for a torn plantar fascia is to rest your foot until the inflammation eases and the pain is gone.
Apply ice. Three or four times a day, you can apply ice to the hurting part of the foot for about 20 minutes at a time. An ice massage can also help; freeze water in a paper cup and roll the cup over the area that is hurting.
Take it easy. If you are a runner, scale back on the distances until the pain eases. Or you can substitute low-impact exercise, such as swimming or biking, for running or walking.
Get support. Shoes with shock-absorbing soles can provide relief. You can also purchase inexpensive over-the-counter arch supports or heel cushions to provide extra cushion and support.
Stretch. You can sometimes get relief from simple stretching exercises. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has diagrams of simple exercises on their website at http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00149
You can take steps to prevent plantar fasciitis. For example, keep a healthy weight, wear shoes with good support, and replace worn-out athletic shoes frequently.
If the pain does not get better with these home remedies, your doctor may recommend treatments such as injections, a walking cast, or even surgery. Don't hesitate to contact your doctor at any time if you have questions.