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How long does plantar faciitis take to heal?

Posted by Helena on 2/07/05 at 20:14 (168721)

After banging my heel too hard on the tennis court several times in new shoes (the wrong kind), I was forced to stop all activity due to a resulting plantar faciitis. Now, this happened last July and we are currently in February, and while it definitely has gotten much better, the tightness and pain have subsided and I can walk more, my foot is still not ready yet for the tennis courts.

My question is: How long can I expect the healing process to take?

I wear insoles in my Nike shoes with air and shoes with a 2 inch heel at home. I am not running, hiking or playing tennis anymore. And although I do walk a little, I feel more or less like a vegetable and miss being able to get back to my exercise routine.

What is the typical timespan for healing? I am beginning to wonder whether it ever will?

Thanks for your reply.

Re: How long does plantar faciitis take to heal?

Julie on 2/08/05 at 02:34 (168729)

Helena, may I suggest that you also post a question about shoes on the Inserts, Orthotics, Shoes board? Our resident CPed, Richard may see it there and respond to you. My vague understanding is that Nike shoes are not the best, and it might be that you'd have better luck with a different brand. If anybody is likely to know about this, it's Richard. Also, you should perhaps be considering orthotics (or perhaps that's what you mean by insoles?)

It sounds as though your PF is typical, and that it is resolving very satisfactorily. I don't think anyone can give you an answer to the 'how long' question, but I'd venture to say that your best bet now is to proceed gradually and mindfully, and monitoring your progress. Start by walking more, and work up to jogging and hiking. If anything causes a setback, pull back for a couple of days until you're without pain again. You'll find, I think, that although you get setbacks, they'll resolve quicker and quicker as the healing proceeds. There will come a point (your feet will tell you) when you're ready to get back on the courts.

My PF followed much the same course and timescale as yours. I reached the point you are at now within six months, and three months after that I was hiking in rough, hilly terrain with no ill effects, as long as I wore orthotics AND taped my foot. I stopped taping after another six months, but still always wear my orthotics. You can't really judge by anyone else's experience, but I would say you probably don't have too long to wait, as long as you don't do too much too soon. The problem with tennis, of course, is that in the middle of a match you can't really give yourself the mental space you need to judge how your feet are responding to all that pounding, and you'd be more unlikely to call it quits than if you were just running!

I'm not a doctor, just a fellow reader here. Good luck.
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Re: How long does plantar faciitis take to heal?

Helena on 2/08/05 at 14:25 (168749)

Hi Julie,

Thanks for your answer. What discouraged me was the long wait, but also reading in here how long people have suffered with PF, and hearing how many people have a PF that's not healing up for years.

My doctor told me to wait it out and to stop all excercise until it was completely gone, and then wait an additional two weeks before slowly starting up again with exercising. He said that if I'd begin too soon then it wouldn't heal and I could risk ending up with a foot that just got worse and worse, but that if I'd wait it out then I'd be able to go back to normal.

I have followed his advice and have basically been a couch potato for 6 months. At times I want to scream out in frustration and impatience, but the couch potato method seems to work as my foot definitely is healing up slowly. Also long, warm foot baths seems to speed up the healing.

As I read the different posts in here, I wonder whether the people who are struggling with PF for years, have a chronic problem because they go on running and exercising etc. and in that way keep it from ever healing up? Or whether there are other reasons for why it doesn't heal?

Anyway, I appreciate your answer, thanks for taking the time, I will definitely stay on the couch for another three months.

Re: How long does plantar faciitis take to heal?

Julie on 2/08/05 at 16:05 (168755)

Helena

You don't have to be a total couch potato for your PF to heal. In fact, it's very important to keep your body moving in every possible way, so that you don't lose mobility and so that your muscles don't weaken. There are loads of exercises that you can do sitting in a chair, lying on the floor, even lying in bed.

To start, have a look at the yoga foot exercises here. It's important to keep your foot musculature exercised with non-weightbearing exercise so that you don't lose strength. Too much rest can be as damaging as too much activity - just make sure your exercise isn't weightbearing.
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Re: How long does plantar faciitis take to heal?

LindaM on 2/08/05 at 20:43 (168769)

I am just beginning to realize that this may be my problem. Significant pain. I have begun trying inserts to lift my weight off and am wearing 2 inch heels at home and sometimes work (I teach). I do need to lose about 15 pounds. I have thought of going to my chiropractor again for this. Please advise. What do you think I should do first? AND what is it about this tape? I read about icing and am trying that right now. Linda M

Re: How long does plantar faciitis take to heal?

LindaM on 2/08/05 at 21:02 (168770)

I found the book, so I will be learning some. LindaM

Re: How long does plantar faciitis take to heal?

Marre on 2/08/05 at 23:13 (168775)

Hi Julie,

I read your message with interest because I am almost healed (I think). You will recall my earlier message where I was trying to run 3 -4 miles, too soon. I've backed way off and still get twinges, but you are right, the setbacks don't last as long. Luckily, I am able to swim and bike. I can't imagine not doing anything as I am addicted to exercise! My PF has taken five months to get to the point where I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Re: How long does plantar faciitis take to heal?

Julie on 2/09/05 at 02:46 (168777)

That sounds good, Marre. Keep focused on that light but don't run towards it too quickly. :) You're doing well.
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Re: How long does plantar faciitis take to heal?

Jill H. on 2/09/05 at 08:58 (168790)

This set of messages caught my eye, since I too have a cronic condition (13 months now). I wonder if right away if I did nothing, would I be in a better situation now? After the first two months, I still rode the bike at times, but that got to the point where it hurt too much. Finally at 13 months, I can walk around work and do errands without much pain. I swim (but not with kicking) and have ridden the bike some without much pain. But I have to be very careful not to overdo it or I will be set back. When I walk too much, I can really tell. So, I guess for me at least, even though I am seeing improvement, I have to take it ever so easy. I was a marathon walker and haven't walked more than 2 blocks in 11 months!

Re: How long does plantar faciitis take to heal?

Julie on 2/09/05 at 10:06 (168792)

Jill, it's always hard to assess another person's situation, but probably if you had not tried to exercise through the pain your PF might have resolved quicker. Many people who have walked, or run (or whatever) through the pain have regretted it!

I wonder if you've investigated ESWT, which seems now to be the 'gold standard' treatment for chronic PF.

And I would strongly advise you as I did Helena to keep your body moving as much as possible. This includes your feet. Avoid weightbearing exercise but do whatever you can to maintain muscle tone and strength. See the yoga foot exercises, and the PF Stretch.

There is a wonderful book called Recovery Yoga, by Sam Dworkis, a yoga teacher of long standing who has developed modifications of yoga techniques to suit people who have difficulty standing. And there is my own Office Yoga, with a wide variety of movements that can be done in a chair.

With PF, most people find they need to cut back on weightbearing exercise, but that does not mean that anyone needs to be a couch potato.

Swimming is of course excellent all-body cardiovascular exercise.
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Re: How long does plantar faciitis take to heal?

dixie on 2/09/05 at 11:09 (168797)

I play tennis and jog and haven't done so since August. Since then I have tried several different 'remedies' to help the pf. I'm still sore and really want to get back to where I was before pf. It has been a very trying injury. I bike ride when the weather allows, and use a EFX machine to keep up my cardio, but nothing compares to the competition, fun, and comraderie (SP?) that tennis provides. Hang in there. Maybe your pf will clear up.

Re: How long does plantar faciitis take to heal?

Helena on 2/13/05 at 15:38 (168991)

I have been afraid of biking, but maybe I should try it out at this point. Does it aggravate your foot to bike at all, and are you biking uphill as well?

It is good to hear that the set backs don't last long at this point, I must admit that I haven't really challenged it and therefore haven't had set backs, but I can feel that I still can't walk steep uphill but am doing fine now with walking normally. I am so addicted to exercising, that it's crucial for me to heal so I can get back to it, therefore I've been keeping still, almost holding my breath, while waiting for it to heal.

Julie, thanks for the Yoga tips, swimming is a good option too.

And after 6 months I can see light at the end of the tunnel too, it is great to have come this far, but it is so strange that PF takes so long to heal when a broken bone heals in 6 weeks.

All the best to all of you, may we all heal quickly and completely! :o)