Plantar Fasciitis Treatment
Try ice therapy
If ice doesn't work, try heat
Avoid inappropriate footwear
Reduce level of impact
Try OTC medication to reduce inflammation
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Termed one of the most common causes of heel pain, plantar fasciitis is seen as a common occurrence in most individuals. There is a flat band of ligament, or tissue, which connects the heel bone to the toes, and it is known as the plantar fascia, which also provides good support to the arch of the foot. If there is any kind of strain put on the plantar fascia, then it tends to swell and becomes weak. Hence, the heel, or the bottom of the foot, starts to hurt whenever one is standing or walking. It is known to be a common occurrence in middle-aged people, although this medical condition can also affect younger people who are continuously on their feet for a long duration. Plantar fasciitis is said to affect both or, in certain cases, either of the feet. This is known to be a gradual form of illness that tends to start with initial pain in the heel when the first step is taken in the morning. This pain then starts to worsen if enough rest is not taken by the individual. Also, there can be chances that the injured ligament will not heal completely until the individual stops the ongoing activity that has led to the pain or changes the condition that caused it initially. The pain in the heel tends to worsen as plantar fasciitis progresses. Some individuals are forced to change their walking style to avoid the pain or any of the other problems that can cause an impact to the foot, hip, or back. Carrying out daily activities would start to become limited. Eventually, the person would even find it difficult to carry out any weight-bearing activity. As the plantar fasciitis pulls on the heel bone due to continuous stress, it results in heel spur.
Every individual would have varied treatment patterns since there is no single treatment that works best for those suffering from plantar fasciitis. But there are certain things the individual can try out to reduce the strain caused on the feet:
- With this condition, the feet need ample amounts of rest and, at the same time, one has to cut back on all activities that could hurt the foot. Running as well as walking on hard surfaces should be avoided or minimized at all cost by the individual since they can aggravate the condition.
- Try to apply an ice pack on the heel to reduce the pain and swelling. If the pain or swelling does not reduce even after the application of ice to the affected region after two or three days, then the individual should try using a heating pad, which should be set on low since, at times, heat can lead to worsening of the symptoms in certain cases.
- One can also try taking medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen, which are readily available at medical stores over the counter. Certain non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, can also help reduce the inflammation caused due to pain. It is important to check with the doctor before trying out any of these new medications or creams.
- The individual can also try out certain exercises to relax the feet muscles. Toe stretches and calf stretches can be done several times a day, and they are known to be very helpful. Stretches and small exercises should be done first thing in the morning to get the best results. You can also try out certain towel stretches to be carried out under the guidance of a trainer. In these exercises, you pull both ends of a rolled towel that is placed under the ball of your foot.
- Shoes are known to be the key contributor to providing either pain or relaxation to the feet. Hence, it is important to get a new pair of shoes if the old ones have been worn out. The soles of the shoes should be well cushioned, and they should have good arch support. You can also use shoe inserts, which are made up of rubber, plastic, or felt, and can be inserted into the shoes. It is important to use them in both shoes even if the pain is only in one foot.
- For those individuals who are overweight or obese, try to find and commit to a weight loss program, or you can also consult a nutritionist who can provide a healthy eating pattern to reduce excess fat, thereby taking pressure off the feet.
- Running and walking are known to engage gravity by letting the upper body lead and the legs follow. While you’re running, lean slightly from the ankles. Be sure to keep the stride short, and the feet should land directly under the center of mass. This will minimize the pressure on the feet, thereby keeping you safe from plantar fasciitis.
- Try to avoid taking the stairs and instead use the elevators. Also, it is advisable to avoid running or walking on hard surfaces for long periods of time. Try to avoid hills, trails, and surfaces that are uneven, since it can lead to pressure on the feet and cause damage.
- At certain times, it becomes important to pamper yourself with a foot massage. The deeper the massage, the better you will feel.
Below are certain therapies that are recommended for patients suffering from plantar fasciitis:
- Night splints: The doctor would recommend that the individual wear a splint that stretches the calf as well as the arch of the feet while one is sleeping. This would help to hold the plantar fascia and the Achilles tendon in a lengthened position, thereby facilitating stretching.
- Physical therapy: In this particular case, a physical therapist would recommend certain kinds of exercises to be carried out in order to stretch the plantar fascia and the Achilles tendon, thereby strengthening the lower leg muscles. This would help to stabilize the ankle as well as the heel.
- Orthotics: The doctor would prescribe custom-fitted arch supports so that they help to distribute the pressure of the feet evenly.
- Surgery: Surgery is known to be one of the last options for the doctor. Individuals who have been suffering from plantar fasciitis for the past 6 to 12 months, even after trying all kinds of drugs, as well as therapies or exercises, are then recommended to consider going in for surgery.
- Injections: Medication are injected into the tender area to provide temporary pain relief. However, doctors do not recommend providing multiple injections since it can lead to weakening of the plantar fascia and possibly cause a rupture.
- Tenex procedure: This procedure helps in the removal of scar tissue from plantar fasciitis without performing a surgery.
- Shock wave therapy: In this therapy, sound waves are directed at the area of pain in the heel. This is done to stimulate the process of healing. This is mostly carried out on cases of chronic plantar fasciitis that have not responded to any other form of treatment. There are certain side effects of this treatment; it can lead to bruising, pain, numbness, or a tingling sensation. This therapy has not been shown to be consistently effective, however, certain studies have shown this therapy has promising results.