I am really struggling with plantar fasciitis. I've finally decided to go get some help. What kind of treatment and results can I expect?

Conservative care for this common orthopedic disorder includes antiinflammatory drugs, physical therapy, orthotics, or cortisone injection. Orthotics are supports that fit inside your shoe to help support and take pressure off the inflamed tissue.

The goal of treatment is to reduce or eliminate pain and improve function. If conservative treatment fails, then surgery may be the next step. The plantar fascia is cut to release the tension.

Results of conservative or surgical care remain inconsistent. Some patients get better and others don't. There's no way to predict who will benefit from what kind of treatment.

A new treatment called extracorporeal shockwave may be another option. It's done on an out-patient basis with minimal discomfort. A recently published long-term study reports the results are much better for shockwave treatment compared to conservative care.

Most patients receiving shockwave treatment had no heel pain with improved function. Many of the athletes returned to full participation in sports. Symptoms came back in 11 percent of the shockwave group compared to 55 percent for those patients receiving antiinflammatory drugs, exercise, or local steroid injection.