How long does plantar fasciitis take to heal with physical therapy?

Answered by Tom Adger

Plantar fasciitis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot. It is often caused by repetitive strain or overuse, such as prolonged standing, running, or walking on hard surfaces.

Physical therapy is a commonly recommended treatment for plantar fasciitis, as it can help to alleviate pain, improve flexibility and strength, and promote healing. But how long does it take for plantar fasciitis to heal with physical therapy?

The duration of healing can vary from person to person, as it depends on various factors such as the severity of the condition, individual response to treatment, and compliance with the recommended therapy plan. However, most people can begin to see improvements within a few weeks or months of starting physical therapy.

The initial phase of physical therapy for plantar fasciitis typically focuses on reducing pain and inflammation. This may involve techniques such as ice or heat therapy, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation to help alleviate symptoms. Your physical therapist may also recommend rest, activity modification, and the use of night splints to keep the foot in a stretched position overnight.

As pain and inflammation subside, the focus of physical therapy shifts towards restoring normal foot mechanics and addressing contributing factors. This may involve exercises to improve flexibility and strength in the foot, ankle, and calf muscles. Your physical therapist may also provide education on proper footwear and gait mechanics to prevent future episodes of plantar fasciitis.

In addition to in-person physical therapy sessions, your therapist may prescribe a home exercise program to be performed on a regular basis. It is crucial to follow these exercises diligently to achieve optimal outcomes and speed up the healing process.

Alongside physical therapy, other conservative treatments can also be beneficial in the healing process. These may include wearing supportive shoes or orthotics, using arch supports or heel cups, and taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and inflammation.

It is important to note that the healing time for plantar fasciitis can vary. While some individuals may experience significant improvement within a few weeks, others may require several months of consistent physical therapy and conservative treatment to fully recover. On average, most people will recover from plantar fasciitis within 7-9 months.

Personal experiences with plantar fasciitis can also shed light on the healing process. For example, I had a friend who developed plantar fasciitis and sought physical therapy. After about two months of regular therapy sessions, performing home exercises, and using supportive footwear, her pain significantly decreased. However, she continued with physical therapy for an additional few months to ensure complete healing and prevent future flare-ups.

Plantar fasciitis can take several weeks to months to heal with physical therapy, depending on the individual and the severity of the condition. Consistent and diligent adherence to the recommended therapy plan, including in-person sessions and home exercises, is essential for optimal healing. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a physical therapist, for an individualized treatment plan and guidance throughout the healing process.