How to Treat & Prevent Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar Fasciitis can be an extremely agonizing condition that happens when the plantar fascia becomes inflamed in your foot. PF can be hard to prevent and treat because of how much and often we use our feet on a regular basis. Each day we walk on hard pavement, play rough sports, and standing for long periods of time. With each step we take, the plantar fascia is used, tension is heightened, and overstretching can occur.
Plantar Fasciitis happens when micro tears appear the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a long tissue that attaches your toes to your heels. As soon as these micro tears appear, they cause discomfort and swelling, which cause large amounts of heel pain when you take your first steps after you wake up. People who are most susceptible to Plantar Fasciitis are people who are overweight, runners, and athletes. If you find yourself in any of these categories, be conscious of how your feet are feeling and try to take preventative measures to stop Plantar Fasciitis. Since PF cannot completely be prevented, take a look at what you can do about it.
Medications that Help With Plantar Fasciitis
There is not a complete cure for Plantar Fasciitis, yet medications can help ease the discomfort, which can be the most annoying part of the ailment. Non-steroid anti-inflammatory (NSAIDS) drugs can reduce inflammation and thereby decreasing the pain. Some of the more common medications include naproxen, aspirin, and ibuprofen.
Besides NSAIDS, there are additional medications that may be recommended. Corticosteroids are injected directly in your feet by a doctor or a trained health care expert. These medications can relieve the pain from two weeks to just under two months. The injections go into the arch, the edge of the heel, or the base of the heel. The injections themselves can hurt, which is they it may be a good idea to try other methods first. This is especially true if you aren’t fond of needles.
Steroid shots are effective because they target the inflammation directly, unlike pills that are taken orally, which are more general. The shots also reduce pain and swelling everywhere in the area where Plantar Fasciitis occurs, which is why it is helpful in treating the condition.
If you have tried medication and they just don’t work, there are other options out there. These may also be used with the medications for a well-rounded approach to Plantar Fasciitis. The non-medication options include night splints, physical therapy, and orthotics. When you do combine them, you have more of a possibility of keeping Plantar Fasciitis away.
Wearing Night Splints
Night splints are worn while you are sleeping and come in many types of designs. These work as your feet are inactive and are placed on your feet before you fall asleep. Once they are attached to your feet, the night splints stretch your plantar fascia. It is important to attach these to your feet regularly so the ligaments gently stretch out. When this happens, the plantar fascia will move smoother as you walk. Eventually, it will get to the point where your feet will automatically stop micro tears because the ligaments are more stretchy because of the moderate extending the night splints give you.
WebMD has a guide to night splints and how they may be effective. Read that here.
Wearing Shoes that Support Your Feet
If you have foot pain of any sort, especially Plantar Fasciitis, you need a proper pair of shoes. In fact, one of the most effective solutions for Plantar Fasciitis is to simply change your shoes! Nearly 20 percent of people with this condition can eliminate it with a shoe change. So make this your first solution if you have PF pain (or any foot pain).
Ideally, you want a pair of shoes that offer heel support and arch support. You can get a pretty good list of shoes for Plantar Fasciitis at this website here. The American Foot and Ankle Society also give some recommendations for how to choose the correct shoes for PF over here.
Orthotic inserts are worn throughout the day to keep your feet more comfortable and provide support. They can be transferred between shoes, making them an affordable and versatile option. Orthotic inserts will give your feet stability and cushioning. Over time, your feet experience less strain as you move.
Another nice thing about orthotic inserts is they realign your body when you walk. When you walk naturally, the impact on your feet will be dispersed, pressure is absorbed, and your feet will be more comfortable. Inserts can transform the way your feet feel, and be the difference between prepared to go out after work and wanting to collapse on the couch.
As you search for orthotic inserts, you may come across padded inserts. Note that these are different. Padded inserts are designed for cushion only, with no stability. These may work if you just need cushioning. If you do suffer from Plantar Fasciitis on a regularly, it may be a good idea to use orthotic inserts to keep the pain away as padded inserts may offer enough stability.
You can find a variety of Orthotic Inserts on Amazon.com.
A physical therapist administers physical therapy to your feet. They will teach you how to do certain exercises to take the pain associated with Plantar Fasciitis away. In addition, there are many treatments the physical therapist may provide you that you might not have access to before. Going to physical therapy can be extremely beneficial because the therapists have researched the body and know how it all functions as one unit.
One of the more important parts of physical therapy is stretching. By doing this regularly, the ligaments will elongate, the pain will be gone, and the fitness of your feet will be improved. Be sure to abide by the directions your therapist gives exactly because too much extending can make the tears worse, whereas not enough stretching will do no benefit your feet.
The physical therapist might advise you stretch up to two times a day, depending on your specific condition. Every time you stretch, expect to do the exercises between three and five repetitions times. This ensure the ligaments loosen up properly and your feet receive a good gentle stretch.
Some people have problems stretching on their own, which is why devices were made to aid you in stretching. There is one such piece of equipment built by ProStretch that is designed to prevent Plantar Fasciitis and relieve the pain associated with it. The ProStretch also helps with Achilles tendonitis, tighten leg muscles, and shin splints. If you need some extra assistance getting the right stretch, this device can be very helpful.
Here are some stretches that may help for Plantar Fasciitis on runnersworld
Exercising is an additional great way to heal Plantar Fasciitis and keep it from coming back. While exercising, the muscles in your feet will be strengthened. This helps your feet become stronger so your ligaments and tendons are properly supported. Since your feet will be reinforced, the tendons and ligaments are less likely to tear.
Various exercises can be completed at home with no need of purchasing any equipment. For example, some exercises take just your body weight or a towel you have lying around. There are exercises that you may find help your feet more when using a special device. One of these is the Elign Archxerciser Foot Strengthening Device. It aims to aid with heel spurs and Plantar Fasciitis. The device itself is small, just larger than your foot, so it can be easily taken on the go with you.
Your physical therapist might advise you to tape, which is a third therapy that can be helpful. Athletic tape is used to give your feet extra support as you walk. After your feet are properly taped and supported, you will see a decrease in pain because your plantar fascia and ligaments will be stable. This will help to stop micro tears so you will be more comfortable.
The physical therapist first will show you how to apply the tape to your feet, so if you have any questions, ask during this time. Don’t leave the tape on for an extended period of time as your feet do need to breathe. If you don’t feel comfortable with the idea of taping your feet, try using a bandage that is designed for Plantar Fasciitis. An example of this is the PediFix Arch Bandage. This is basically an ace bandage that is placed around the arch of your foot. The bandage can last for a long time because it can be cleaned and re-worn multiple times.
What if None of These Work?
Does it feel like you have tried everything? Your doctor may start speaking with you about serious measures that may be done. This may come after months or even years of trying different therapies. It is rare that Plantar Fasciitis needs surgery, yet it is required in a few cases. If you are approaching the surgery option, your doctor might recommend extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT).
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy
ESWT is a non-surgical and non-invasive procedure that is an option before surgery. You will not experience any interruption to your daily life with this procedure, and most people find a break from Plantar Fasciitis. ESWT stimulates the bottom of your feet, specifically the plantar fascia, so the area increases the connective tissues. The tissues will build up and become stronger so you will not have as much pain.
The ESWT treatment also arouses the nerves that sends pain signs to your brain. The over stimulation of the nerves reduces the sensation your brain receives. Therefore, you will not have such powerful pain signs as before. Our investigation shows that after an ESWT procedure, people noted their pain decreased from an average of 7 to less than one. If you have experienced the pain from Plantar Fasciitis for a long time, this may be an effective treatment for you.
After you have exhausted all of these other options, your doctor may start to talk to you about a surgical option. Surgery is a last resort because it is a serious procedure. It will take time to recover once the surgery is complete as it is not a magical cure.
While you are having the operation, the plantar fascia is severed to reduce the tension in your feet. About one-third of the tightness will be freed because you still need some to walk. If a large amount of tension is accidentally taken away, you will need surgery again to replace it.
As with all procedures, there are possible side effects to having surgery because of Plantar Fasciitis. These hazards include:
Surgery is one of the last options, so it is important to try all of the treatments first. Make sure to have a conversation with your doctor about what is the right treatment for your Plantar Fasciitis.
Plantar Fasciitis can be treated and prevented at home as well, if it does not require surgery or a more serious intervention. The home remedies are designed to decrease the pain and repairing the micro tears that occur in your plantar fascia. As soon as you notice the pain of Plantar Fasciitis coming up, sit down to take the burden off your feet. This allows your tendons and ligaments a rest and your plantar fascia a chance to heal. It is important to wear good house shoes or shoes in general because as soon as you put your feet down, the micro tears will start flaring up again.
Ice is another easy home remedy that will soothe your pain. Ice reduces the inflammation in your feet, which takes the pain away. It is important to note that ice should not be kept on for more than 20 minutes at a time.
If you exercise regularly, are a runner or athlete, you may need to try something low key while you heel. Try a more low impact exercise or activity that are easier on your joints and feet to prevent the aching and inflammation from getting worse.
The correct shoes for Plantar Fasciitis is vital. Shoes offer you support, keep your ligaments in place, and prevent the plantar fascia from overstretching and tearing. Orthotic inserts may be inserted in your shoes if you are still experiencing pain in your feet. They can be added to hiking boots, tennis shoes, and every day shoes to ensure your feet are comfortable.
Since is no complete treatment for Plantar Fasciitis it is important to try and prevent it as much as possible. Strengthening and stretching can go a long way in healing the micro tears and keeping them from coming back. Rest your feet as much as your body tells you to and stop and rest as soon as your feet start to hurt. When exercising, try to stay away from tough surfaces that can worsen your Plantar Fasciitis. If you cannot avoid this, wear good shoes that have a good amount of cushioning in them to absorb the shock. Plantar Fasciitis can be prevented and treated with the right care and precautions. Have a conversation with your physical therapist and doctor about what is best for your condition.