Plantar fibroma can cause pain and discomfort throughout your day. While the doctor should be your first stop for treating plantar fibroma, you can often see good results using natural treatments at home.
If you’ve got a plantar fibroma, try some of these methods before considering steroid injections or plantar fibroma surgery. They could make a bigger difference than you think!
What is Plantar Fibroma?
Plantar fibromas are fibrous lumps of tissue that appear in the arch of your foot. The nodule develops in the plantar fascia, the dense connective tissue of your foot. At first, the nodule is barely noticeable, but as it gets bigger, you’ll see the lump between the skin and the plantar fascia of your foot.
The size of the nodules range in size from a few millimeters to a few centimeters. You may first notice the lump when you’re standing or walking, as it can feel like you’re stepping on a stone. It may also be painful when pressed.
Although plantar fibromas are often found in the arch of your foot, they can also develop near the heel. Fortunately, the lumps are always benign, non-cancerous masses.
Unfortunately, the lumps won’t go away by themselves without any form of treatment.
What Are the Symptoms of Plantar Fibroma?
In the early stages, you may not even know that you have a plantar fibroma and you may not experience any symptoms. But as the nodule grows larger, it may begin to put pressure on the surrounding soft tissue underneath your feet.
This may result in you feeling pain when you walk barefoot or if you stand for long periods. As the nodule grows, you may experience pain while wearing shoes as the insole can add pressure to the bottom of the foot arch.
Depending on how big the nodule is, you may feel like a stone is stuck in the middle of your shoe. But when you look at your foot, you may see a slight bulge that looks like a pea or marble.
In some cases, the lump will be more pronounced, almost like the tissue and skin around the lump has hollowed or rounded inward. This can give your foot an unusual shape.
What Causes Plantar Fibroma?
The exact cause of plantar fibroma isn’t currently known. But several factors are believed to contribute to the development of the condition. These include:
- Genetic predisposition, including having a relative with a history of plantar fibromas
- Physical trauma to the foot
- Formation of scar tissue when tears in plantar fascia heal
- Medical conditions like diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, and epilepsy
- Lifestyle habits like alcoholism
- Medications like anti-seizure medications—phenytoin—and beta-blockers
- Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin
- Taking doses of supplemental vitamin C
Can a Plantar Fibroma Be Mistaken for Plantar Fasciitis?
There may be cases where plantar fibroma is mistaken for plantar fasciitis, especially if the nodule is small and closer to the heel.
Although both conditions affect the plantar fascia, there are noticeable differences between them.
Plantar fasciitis is much more common than plantar fibroma. When the plantar fascia becomes inflamed, it will cause pain in the heel and arch of the foot. The main symptom for this condition is pain that’s worse first thing in the morning and after periods of rest.
While this condition affects the plantar fascia, it doesn’t present any symptoms until the nodule grows. The lump may be tender to the touch, but it will cause pain in the foot’s arch when pressure is applied or when you walk barefoot.
That being said, plantar fibromas have also been mistaken for the following conditions:
- Sarcoma – a rare type of malignant tumor in the connective tissue of the foot
- A midfoot plantar tear
- Calcaneal—heel—bone stress fracture
Natural Remedies for Plantar Fibroma Treatment at Home
Fortunately, several effective conservative treatment options don’t require surgery. You can try the following remedies at home to treat or manage the pain of plantar fibroma.
Use Orthotic Inserts
Orthotics support your foot’s arch, help keep your foot in its correct alignment, and redistribute your body weight. This will greatly reduce the pressure that’s placed on the nodule and the surrounding soft tissue, which alleviates pain.
Your doctor may recommend using orthotics if you’re in the early stages of the development of the nodule, or if the fibroma isn’t getting bigger.
While you can purchase over-the-counter orthotics, your podiatrist will more than likely recommend that you have custom orthotics made. These will consider the size and position of your nodule on your foot.
However, it’s important to note that once a plantar fibroma has reached a certain size, orthotics may not work. They could place more pressure on the fibroma, causing you to experience more pain.
Find a small bottle that conforms to the curve of your foot. Fill it with water and allow it to freeze. Once frozen, slowly roll your foot over the bottle. Make sure to apply gentle pressure as you “massage” the plantar fascia.
You can stretch the plantar fascia by lifting your heel slightly as you roll the bottle towards the ball of your foot. As you roll the bottle back towards your heel, point your toes downwards. This will stretch the soft tissues on the top of your foot.
Do this several times a day for 10 to 15 minutes, as this will alleviate pain. Ice for a maximum of this, as it could lead to frostbite.
Massage the Fibroma
Massaging your feet can be an effective way to alleviate pain and may prevent the lump from getting bigger. But you also want to ensure that the massage feels good and doesn’t cause or increase the intensity of the pain.
As you massage your foot, start slowly and apply a level of pressure you’re comfortable with. You should avoid placing direct pressure on the lump and instead massage the soft tissue around it.
Massaging the bottom of your foot may help break down scar tissue, reducing inflammation. It will also help reduce and relieve any tension in the surrounding soft tissue and ease any referred pain caused by the pressure of the lump.
It’s okay to feel mild discomfort as you massage. But if the intensity of the pain increases, change the amount of pressure you’re applying. You can apply a small amount of moisturizing lotion to use controlled and smooth movements.
Stretches and Strength Exercises
This may feel counterintuitive, but stretching and strengthening your plantar fascia can alleviate pain caused by the nodule.
By including stretching and strengthening exercises into your daily routine, you’ll increase blood flow to your foot, which promotes healing and encourages the growth of new cells.
Your foot’s flexibility will improve, the arch of your foot will be better supported, and your foot will be better able to distribute weight. This will reduce the amount of pressure placed on the plantar fascia, which helps alleviate discomfort, pain, and inflammation in the affected foot.
You can also reduce the amount of tension that’s placed on the plantar fascia by stretching and doing strengthening exercises of the calves and Achilles.
Soak Your Feet in Epsom Salt
Soaking your feet in warm water with epsom salt can be a great way to help relieve the pain associated with plantar fibroma. This is because epsom salt contains the purest form of magnesium sulfate, which acts as natural anti-inflammatory to reduce swelling and pain.
The warm water also helps to relax the muscles surrounding the affected area. The magnesium sulfate is absorbed through your skin, providing much-needed relief.
Apply Apple Cider Vinegar to the Fibroma
Apple cider vinegar has many benefits and has been used for everything from preserving food, as a deodorizer, and as an all-purpose cleaner. Now it can be used to help treat your plantar fibroma!
Apple cider vinegar has anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate the pain and may reduce the size of the plantar fibroma. Soak a cotton ball in vinegar and then tape the cotton ball to the lump for about 3 to 4 hours every night.
This will give it time to absorb into the skin and help reduce the pain. It’s important to note that while this will leave your skin feeling softer, it can cause the top layer of skin to peel off.
You can dilute the vinegar in some water and don’t leave it on for longer than 4 hours. That being said, there has been a lot of positive feedback from people who have seen this method’s results.