Skip to main content
Get Care MyChart Find a Provider Find a Location
Craig P Sullivan
About the author
Craig P Sullivan

Spoiler alert: You can’t just walk off the pain.

Is that a rock in the heel of your shoe? No, it's probably plantar fasciitis, a common foot condition that can affect people of all ages and lifestyles.

Gundersen Decorah Clinic podiatrist Craig Sullivan, DPM, says if it were up to him, everyone would wear quality running shoes with arch support—all the time—to prevent (and help heal) heel pain.

"And going barefoot would be forbidden," Dr. Sullivan says. "Nothing will bring you into our office quicker than flipflops or going barefoot. You can go barefoot, as long as you're asleep or underwater."

Dr. Sullivan says foot pain, especially plantar fasciitis, is no laughing matter. However, it is something that most of us can avoid.

What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is aggravation and inflammation of the connective tissue—fascia—joining the heel bone to the major structures of your foot. As the tissue is misused, it can start tearing away. The result is heel pain that can range from mild to debilitating.

What are symptoms of plantar fasciitis?

  • Onset of pain at the bottom of the heel
  • Pain in the arch of the foot
  • Heel pain after inactivity, such as when you get up in the morning or step out of your car

Will plantar fasciitis go away?

Your heel pain may subside as the blood circulates and your muscles stretch, but you will likely only experience temporary relief. Proper treatment and a focus on prevention can lessen symptoms over time and eliminate heel pain when walking.

How to treat plantar fasciitis heel pain

There are many ways to treat heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis. Starting with conservative treatments at home is often the best place to start. Our Gundersen Podiatry experts recommend trying these tips to begin easing your heel pain:

  1. Icing. Apply an ice pack to your heel for 15 to 20 minutes. Do this 3 to 4 times each day.
  2. Stretching exercises. Stretching is one of the best treatments for plantar fasciitis, especially the tight muscles in the back of the leg/calves.
  3. Taking anti-inflammatory medicine. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, can help ease inflammation and pain caused by plantar fasciitis.  
  4. Wearing quality footwear. If you’re looking to buy shoes, tell the salesperson you have plantar fasciitis. They can recommend walking, cross training or running shoes that absorb shock better and offer more heel and arch support than other types of shoes.
  5. Using an orthotic shoe insert to support your arches. Our podiatry experts can provide high-quality over-the-counter inserts at competitive prices—and even make custom inserts to fit your specific needs.

When should you see a doctor for plantar fasciitis?

If you suspect you may have plantar fasciitis, or these measures don’t provide relief of the pain in your heel, schedule an appointment with a Gundersen podiatrist. They can help you determine the approach that is most beneficial to you. This can include physical therapy, wearing a night splint, cortical steroid injections, immobilizing the foot and (rarely) surgical intervention to lengthen the ligament so it isn't pulling away the muscle.

“We'd be happy to see you in the clinic," Dr. Sullivan says. "We'd be even happier to see you wearing a good pair of shoes."

Find heel pain relief

To stay a step ahead of debilitating heel pain, make an appointment close to home with one of our Gundersen podiatrists.

Find a podiatrist 

Related articles

Woman in exercise clothing eating healthy bowl.

Protein takeover: How much is really needed per day?

Protein's superpower is its ability to satiety. Gundersen's dietitian shares protein options and how much protein you should aim to eat daily.
woman doing dumbbell curl

What exercise burns the most calories?

Discover the benefits of anaerobic and high-intensity workouts, which help burn calories and improve overall fitness. Start your calorie-burning journey today.
Nutrition and your mental health

The link between nutrition and your mental health

The foods you eat can positively impact your brain function, mood and mental health. Apply this “back to the basics” approach of focusing on simple, healthy food for the brain
Is my child getting enough fiber

How much fiber does my child need?

Learn about the importance of fiber in a child’s diet and how to incorporate high-fiber foods for kids.

1900 South Ave.
La Crosse, WI 54601

(608) 782-7300

Language Support:
Jump back to top