Thursday, June 01, 2023
Bottom of Foot Pain FOOT PAIN

Plantar Fascia Tears- Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read full Disclosure here.

The plantar fascia is the connective tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot. It is separated into a medial band, a central band, and a lateral band. The plantar fascia helps support the arch of your foot. When the plantar fascia becomes overloaded or overstretched, it can tear. This can be problematic and cause significant foot pain. Plantar fascia tears should be addressed quickly to optimize recovery. 

In this article, we’ll discuss in detail how to treat plantar fascia tears so that they don’t worsen. 

Let’s dive in…


What Causes Plantar Fascia Tears?

Plantar fascia tears are most often caused by repetitive stress or trauma to the foot, such as from running, jumping, or dancing. They can also be caused by sudden injury or impact, such as from falling or being hit by something heavy. 

Plantar fascia microtears can also happen over time due to repetitive stress on the plantar fascia from plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis degeneration of the plantar fascia. 

What Does a Plantar Fascia Tear Feel Like?

If you have a plantar fascia tear that occurs from chronic microtrauma to the plantar fascia, you may feel dull, achy pain in the heel or arch of your foot that is constant.

For acute plantar fascia tears and ruptures, you may feel sudden severe pain in the heel/arch of your foot. You may have difficulty bearing weight on the foot as a result of this. 

Symptoms of Plantar Fascia Tears Include:

  • Bruising in the bottom of the foot
  • Foot swelling
  • Inability to bear weight on the foot
  • A bulge on the bottom of the foot in the area of the plantar fascia
  • A palpable discontinuity along the area of the plantar fascia
  • A “popping” sensation during the injury

How Is a Torn Plantar Fascia Diagnosed?

If you suspect you have torn your plantar fascia, it’s best to visit your local foot doctor’s office. Your doctor will obtain a history and perform a physical exam. Your doctor will order an x-ray of your foot to rule out other causes of heel/arch pain such as stress fractures and bone tumors. 

The plantar fascia cannot be directly visualized with an x-ray, so your doctor may choose to order an ultrasound to identify the presence of a tear. An ultrasound can help identify the presence and the location of the tear. 

Your doctor may choose to order an MRI. An MRI can provide detailed images of the soft tissue, tendons, bones, and ligaments in your foot. An MRI can identify the presence of a tear, the severity of the tear, and also any other associated foot problems (like a stress fracture) that may be present. 

person holding orthotics

How Do You Treat a Plantar Fascia Tear?

Treatment for plantar fascia tears will depend on the severity of your injury and how much pain you’re in. 

In most cases, plantar fascia tears can be treated conservatively with RICE therapy and immobilization.

You will need to remain non-weight bearing in a cast boot for 4 weeks, followed by a gradual transition to weight-bearing in a cast boot for another 2-4 weeks before returning to athletic shoes.

Physical therapy may be needed and can be greatly beneficial in reducing pain and improving mobility. 

Studies show that full recovery from plantar fascia tears can take up to 3 months. 

During the recovery process, your doctor will suggest you wear orthotics to help lift the arch and alleviate strain along the plantar fascia.

Custom orthotics would be ideal because they would be custom-made to fit your feet. You can obtain custom orthotics at your foot doctor’s office. Check with your insurance whether this may be a covered benefit for you. 

If not, over-the-counter orthotics can still be immensely helpful in supporting the plantar fascia. I recommend Powerstep orthotics.

  • For mild to moderate flat feet: I recommend the Powerstep Protech inserts. They have a supportive arch with a deep heel cup that helps with stabilization. 
  • For severe flat feet: I recommend Powerstep Maxx orthotics. They have the same features as the Powerstep orthotics but with an added external wedge to help prevent overpronation. 
  • For high-arched feet: I recommend the Powerstep Pinnacle High Arch inserts. They contour high-arched feet well.

Your doctor may also suggest wearing a rocker bottom shoe to alleviate strain along the plantar fascia. 

Rocker bottom shoes are a type of shoe that has a sole that is curved from front to back. The curve helps to provide a rocking motion when walking. This rocking motion can help to reduce the pressure on the heel and ball of the foot. 

Rocker bottom shoes can help relieve pain associated with a plantar fascia tear by providing support and cushioning for the foot. The support and cushioning help to reduce the pressure on the heel and ball of the foot. The reduced pressure helps to reduce inflammation and pain. Rocker bottom shoes can also help to improve balance and stability. The improved balance and stability can help to prevent falls and injuries.  


Is Surgery Needed for Plantar Fascia Tears?

In very rare cases, surgery may be needed for plantar fascia tears. This would involve your doctor releasing the plantar fascia and removing the scar tissue. This can be done endoscopically or via open surgery. You would have to remain non-weight bearing in a cast boot for 4 weeks- 6 weeks after surgery, followed by gradual weight bearing. Physical therapy will be needed. 

Can You Walk on a Torn Plantar Fascia?

Although it is possible to walk with a torn plantar fascia, you shouldn’t because it will be very painful. Walking with a torn plantar fascia can make the pain worse due to excess pressure being placed on the tissue. This is why it’s important to rest as much as possible if you suspect you have torn your plantar fascia. 

Walking with a torn plantar fascia can also slow down the healing process and cause further damage to the tissue. 

Is a Plantar Fascia Tear a Serious Injury?

Plantar fasciitis tears are serious and should not be ignored as they can cause significant pain and limitations to weight-bearing activities. Walking and running with plantar fascia tears can make the pain worse and slow the healing process. If you suspect you have a plantar fascia tear, it’s important to see your local foot doctor. 

Related articles: Cortisone Shots for Plantar Fasciitis:  Pros & Cons of a Foot Steroid Injection

Have you torn your plantar fascia before? What helped you heal it? I would love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below!

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Vaishnavi Bawa
Dr. Vaishnavi Bawa is a Podiatrist who specializes in treating foot and ankle pathology. LifesLittleSteps mission is to educate the public about foot health in an easy-to-understand manner using evidence-based medicine.
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