How to Treat Plantar Fasciitis: Effective Strategies to Deal with Footpain

Posted on Sep 5 2015 - 9:48am by admin

Your feet are a vital part of your health. Many people don’t consider just how important your feet — and their health — are until something goes wrong. If you are a mom, you are no doubt on your feet for significant parts of the day, caring for the kids, working, and doing household chores.

If you are particularly active on your feet (you do a lot of running) or you are heavy, you are potential at risk for a foot condition called ‘Plantar Fasciitis.’

You may never have heard of this condition, but let me tell you, if once you get it, you’re life won’t be the same. All those things you used to take for  granted will be painful to do — at least until your plantar fasciitis heals up, which can take a long while.

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

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Plantar Fasciitis is better know as ‘the foot pain that never ends’. It’s a very specific sort of pain in the heel bone area. It causes a burning, stabbing, or aching sensation in the heel of the foot when pressure is applied.This can give a whole new meaning to “letting your feet touch the ground.”

Without treatment, the pain can become worse.

Yes, this is not one of those conditions where you can just ‘stay off your feet’ for a few days and be as good as no. No, it can take months to heal up — and that’s ONLY if you actively pursue some strategies treat the plantar fasciitis condition. Left alone, there is significant chance the condition — and pain — will only get worse.

Each year over two million Americans are diagnosed and treated for heel pain, most commonly is plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the thick band of tissue that connects and supports the bottom of the foot from the heel to the toes becomes irritated or inflamed. This is a gradual pain that increases in intensity to a sharp, shooting pain centralized around the heel. The pain is generally worse with the first steps of the morning, after running, or following high impact exercises. The treatment for plantar fasciitis is generally conservative and non-invasive and can be managed at home.

What are the Causes of Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar Fasciitis can be caused by a number of things:

  • Lots of physical activity with hard impacts on the feet: This  is could be consistent exercise such as jumping rope and running. Or it could be sports that involve a lot of foot impact such as basketball, rugby, competitive running, football, soccer, etc.  In particular, runners, especially the habitual ones or the ones that specialize in long distance running are particularly susceptible to this.
  • Arthritis can also be a factor in the cause of plantar fasciitis.
  • Wearing the wrong shoes can also cause plantar fasciitis — shoes need to provide good support and a proper fit and the failure to do so can cause plantar fasciitis if the wrong footwear is worn long enough.
  • Body Weight: It must be said, if you are on the heavier side — especially if you are obese — you are far more at risk of developing plantar fasciitis due to the extra stress and weight applied to your foot. Excess weight is not the only cause of course, but it can make plantar fasciitis worse or aid in the development of it.

Here’s a diagram with some of the major causes:

causes of plantar fasciitis

These are just a few causes of this type of foot pain. There are more such as genetic disposition (flat feet or high arches, tight calves), lifestyle or work such as too much standing and so on.

What Treatments are Recommended for Plantar Fasciitis?

plantar fasciitis treatments

Most cases of plantar fasciitis do not require surgery to stop pain, but every case is not the same. Every person’s body responds to plantar fasciitis treatment differently. The healing process may be longer or shorter depending on the person and the type of treatment used.

1. Change Your Habits

You can start by changing your daily activities. For instance, decreasing the amount of stress to the foot. This would include cutting back on stressful physical activities. Rest the ligament by decreasing or eliminating the activities that cause the worse pain. Start resting the foot often, using a ice pack on the area. Apply ice to the heel three times a day, in fifteen minute increments to reduce inflammation.   Taking some type of over the counter medication that aids in decreasing inflammation and offers some pain relief can help treat the pain associated with plantar fasciitis. Pain and inflammation can be reduced by using a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen or naproxen.

2.  Plantar Fasciitis Shoes

There is also the option having special shoes that aid in relieving the foot pain of plantar fasciitis The Plantar Fasciitis Orthotic Walking Shoes are designed by a podiatrist.

These walking shoes aid in combating the effects of plantar fasciitis with a stabilizing orthotic foot bed that realigns your feet to a neutral position. The built-in orthotic foot beds are made from shock-absorbing material, and provide contoured arch support. These shoes are great for walkers who have had to limit themselves due to foot pain. They are available in both men and women sizes. For the summer they even have sandals!

You can also look specifically at running shoes that offer extra heel and arch support. There are quite a few people with plantar fasciitis who swear by some popular running shoe brands.

If you want to see specifically some shoe recommendations, we suggest checking out this post which we’ve found have some solid information and recommendations for decent shoes that won’t aggravate the pain.

3. Plantar Fasciitis Shoe Orthotics

Plantar fasciitis is often a condition caused by the mechanics of the foot. An in-shoe orthotic is used to correct the alignment of the foot and decrease the effects of high arches, flat feet, pronation, and an abnormal gait. Supportive heel cups and insoles are an economical and effective treatment. A foot support made of medical grade silicone, leather or polyethylene foams help to reduce the impact of daytime activities and releases the tension placed on the plantar fascia ligament.

When an off-the-shelf insole cannot relieve the heel pain, custom corrective shoes are prescribed. This is an expensive option generally reserved for treating severe conditions.

4. Plantar Fasciitis Night Splints

A person suffering from plantar fasciitis often sleeps with their feet pointing downward, as a result the ligament becomes relaxed. A night splint can be used to stretch the plantar fascia ligament during sleep. There are four types of professionally recognized styles of night splints. A passive night splint supports the foot from the bottom with a rigid splint. It is preformed in a permanent five degree dorsiflexion, a position recommended by podiatrists, and is effective for eighty percent of patients. An adjustable night splint has adjustable straps and gives a person more control over the comfort of the angle between the foot and the leg. The dorsal night splint provides support to the foot from above and has an open heel design for a more natural feeling during sleep. Supports that have no rigid splint, called flexible plantar fasciitis supports, are easily adjustable for comfort and are convenient for travel purposes.

5. Plantar Fasciitis Stretches

There are exercises such as stretches that aid in the relief of foot pain caused by plantar fasciitis. A combination of orthotics and stretching exercises is the most beneficial form of treatment. By stretching the calf muscle and plantar fascia ligament the tight muscles that aggravate plantar fasciitis is alleviated. A calf stretch is performed by leaning forward against a wall and bringing the body into a controlled lunge position. A second stretch is performed in a sitting position, usually before getting out of bed in the morning. Place the affected foot over the opposite knee and grasp the toes of the painful food. Slowly pull the toes toward the body in a controlled fashion. Support the bottom of the foot with the other hand. Each stretch should be held for ten seconds, with twenty repetitions.

6. Plantar Fasciitis Surgery

Additional treatment options are available. Cortisone shots to the plantar fascia can be given for short term pain relief. Extracorporeal shockwave therapy is a non-invasive treatment that delivers electrical impulses to stimulate the healing process. Surgery is only performed following exhausting all other options and comes with numerous risks including nerve damage and incomplete pain relief.

7.  Helpful Plantar Fasciitis Product Treatments

There are many different types of inserts, socks and wraps that can help relieve the stress from foot pain.  There a several recommended products that can aid in the healing of plantar fasciitis:

  • Inferno Wrap which increase the Blood flow to the painful area
  • Cold Compression Plantar Wrap which aids in reducing inflammation.
  • Therapeutic Ultrasound which breaks down scar tissue and clear away damaged tissue and toxins from the painful area.
  • Comfortable Night Splint that will keep the plantar ligament properly stretched during the night.
  • Foot Arch Exerciser

All of these items can be found on amazon. Using a combination of these tools will create a great therapy system and the healing process will be a few short steps away

IF there are no signs of relief from the foot pain after trying the above treatment methods, then the case of plantar fasciitis may need more aggressive measures. Please seek the advice of a doctor or podiatrist ASAP!. A podiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions related to the foot, ankle, and lower leg. Do not let plantar fasciitis change your life. Take measurements to become foot pain free. In general, the most effective treatment of plantar fasciitis is a combination of conservative methods involving; improving foot alignment with inexpensive orthotics and splints, gentle stretching exercises, and rest.

Even More Resources

Check out the following general resources on the topic of Foot Pain and Plantar Fasciitis