If you’ve ever taken that first step out of bed and felt a stabbing pain that runs along the bottom of your foot, then you’ll know what plantar fasciitis feels like. As you begin to move your foot, the pain decreases, but certain activities or just daily fatigue can turn on the pain switch again. We take a look at the most effective options for effective plantar faciitis treatment.
Plantar fasciitis is the one of the leading causes of heel pain*. The pain stems from inflammation of the plantar fascia, or the dense band of connective tissue, that connects your calcaneus, or heel bone, to the bones of your toes. When this band of tissue becomes inflamed, intense pain along the bottom of the foot or in the heel results.
Healthy plantar fascia acts like a shock absorber for the arch of your foot. Prolonged tension on the fascia can create micro tears. As your foot continues to pound the floor, the fascia becomes inflamed. Runners, because of the continual pounding on hard pavement or other surfaces, are particularly susceptible to plantar fasciitis.
Overweight individuals, factory workers and those who wear shoes without good arch support, like flip flops, are also susceptible.
Ignoring the pain won’t make it go away. In fact, the pain can become chronic and begin to affect your ability to participate in the activities you love. It can also change your gait, or the way you walk, which can affect your knees, hips and back causing additional pain and problems.
Diagnosing Plantar Fasciitis
This is one condition that generally doesn’t involve tests. The doctor makes his or her diagnosis based on your explanation of your symptoms and by doing a physical examination of your foot. Sometimes a doctor may order an MRI to look for additional causes of the pain, such as a pinched nerve, but this is generally not the case*.
How Plantar Fasciitis is Treated
For the most part, plantar fasciitis takes care of itself with rest, ice and anti-inflammatory meds such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Nearly a quarter of people with plantar fasciitis say that this treatment resolves their pain**.
If you’re an active person, however, this can be sheer torture since rest can run from a few weeks up to 18 months depending on the severity of the inflammation.
Some doctors add additional therapies, particularly for athletes or individuals such as factory workers who have to get back on their feet relatively quickly.
Does Physical Therapy Help?
This certainly can be beneficial to not only calm the symptoms, but to help you learn ways to stretch and maintain your body alignment to prevent future problems. The therapy program focuses on stretching the plantar fascia, Achilles tendon and calf muscles to strengthen and stabilize the muscles and tendons in the area. Some therapists also use tape to help hold and “teach” the fascia to hold proper alignment.
What are Night Splints?
Night splints are used to stretch the calf muscles, Achilles tendon and plantar fascia while you sleep. Unlike the active stretching that occurs during physical therapy, this passive stretching works throughout the night to help the fascia return to its natural state. Many act by gently stretching the front foot towards you, attached to the back of the leg.
Orthotics are insoles, right?
Yes and no 🙂 Orthotics are professionally made and adjusted to the user where as insoles are made to a generic mould. There are supports that are placed in shoes to help support the feet and can help with plantar fascia. These can be simple over-the-counter purchases for mild cases or custom orthotics made from plaster or fiberglass casts of your feet. About 25 percent of people find extended relief with orthotics**, but most insurance plans don’t cover the cost of orthotics.
Can Specialist Shoes help with plantar faciitis?
Good shoes are vital to maintaining good foot health in general. Shoes that fit correctly with solid arch support can give painful feet a rest. The best shoes for people with plantar fasciitis are running shoes since they have a solid arch support and cushioned insoles that absorb impact. Fashion shoes, such as high heels or pointed toes, are bad for people with plantar fasciitis.
I’ve heard of doctors prescribing Steroid shots
Along the medical route steroid shots are used when rest and other therapies aren’t working. Steroid is injected into the sore areas and can provide pain relief for a few weeks or a few months. However, this is generally a single treatment since injections can cause weak spots and cause the fascia to rupture giving you a whole new problem*.
What is Iontophoresis?
One high tech solution to plantar faciitis uses sound waves to push steroid medication to the area. This treatment must be done by a physical therapist or athletic trainer at least twice a week to see any benefit. Additionally, the process can be painful and can cause bruising, swelling, or numbness. It also has the least effective rating in treatment protocols.
What does plantar faciitis Surgery involve?
Invasive surgery really is the final option. This is generally performed only when the plantar fascia actually detaches from the heel and every other treatment option has failed. While it is generally successful, patients who’ve had the surgery say their foot is weaker after the surgery and they are unable to perform activities as well as they did prior to the injury.
What you can do to Reduce the Pain?
Before you pull out your insurance card, work on these steps to improve your plantar fascia health. One of the most important steps is to try and keep your weight down. The heavier you are, the more stress on your feet.
Wear decent, supportive shoes. If your feet hurt, wear shoes. High heels, flip flops and bare feet are frowned upon if your fascia is inflamed. If you’re a runner, try swimming or biking for a while. You’ll still get a good cardio workout, but your feet won’t take a beating.
One of the best Ice, baby ice. Take a bag of frozen peas covered with a towel and put your foot on it for 15 to 20 minutes. The bag will conform to your foot and help decrease inflammation. Another good use for ice is an ice massage. Freeze water in paper cups and use your foot to roll the cup of ice on the sore spots for 5 to 7 minutes. Either ice therapy can be used after activity or once every 2 to 3 hours.
Stretch it out. By stretching your calves, Achilles tendon and plantar fascia, you can strengthen the area and prevent further injury.
SO, we these effective plantar faciitis treatment options familiar? most likely yes. Have you tried anything that’s worked for you?
Let us know in the comments section below.