A person walks outside, wearing tennis shoes.
Plantar fasciitis is usually treatable, but it can take anywhere from six to 18 months to resolve. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Plantar fasciitis.

It may sound like a flower or something you’d plant in the garden, but anyone who has suffered from the ailment knows it’s anything but beautiful. And it’s usually accompanied by excruciating pain.

It’s a not-so-pleasant reminder of the importance of fascial tissue in your feet and how critical it is to keep your feet healthy.

The plantar fascia is a broad band of connective tissue on the bottom of the foot, extending from the bottom of the heel to the ball of the foot, Spectrum Health podiatrist Marisha Stawiski, DPM, said.

“Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia as it connects to the heel bone,” she explained.

The ailment is the most common cause of heel pain, she said.

“I see cases of it many times a day in my practice, as do my colleagues,” she said.

The good news? About 95% of the time this condition resolves and the pain and inflammation go away.

The bad news? It can take anywhere from six to 18 months to resolve.

“Typically, if you have a resistant case that is not improving with at-home remedies—or you are struggling a great deal with pain—it is recommended that you see a specialist,” Dr. Stawiski said.

People who develop plantar fasciitis are also at higher risk of getting it again, she said.

She offers these tips on coping with the pain:

  • Stretch
  • Ice the area
  • Avoid barefoot walking
  • Wear supportive shoes
  • Use orthotics shoe inserts. These can be purchased at shoe stores (if you see a specialist, you may be prescribed custom orthotics)
  • Avoid activities that trigger pain

One of the best ways to maintain and/or improve the health of the plantar fascia and avoid heel and arch pain associated with plantar fasciitis is to wear good shoes with adequate arch support, Dr. Stawiski said.

Avoid walking barefoot on hard, man-made surfaces and keep the plantar fascia and the calf muscles as stretched out and limber as possible.

Calf stretches will target your calf muscles and your plantar fascia.

Rolling techniques can also ease any pain. This can be simple—just roll a tennis ball or frozen water bottle on the bottom of your foot. A foam roller applied to the calf region on a regular basis is often recommended alongside stretching.

“Used on a frequent basis, rolling and stretching techniques will improve the health of fascia and prevent injury or inflammation,” Dr. Stawiski said. “They are generally quite safe, but if you experience pain when performing these exercises, you should stop and seek the advice of a foot and ankle specialist.”

There’s little doubt extreme pain from plantar fasciitis can affect daily activities.

“Most people would benefit from simple preventive measures,” the doctor said. “And, fortunately, if an individual does develop the ailment, there are a lot of treatment options that are effective.”

Quite often, a foot and ankle specialist will be your best guide to healing.