Getting Relief for Plantar Fasciitis: Your Complete Guide
Approximately one percent of adults in the United States have received a plantar fasciitis diagnosis in the last year. Of this one percent, about three-fourths have experienced pain from their condition in the last month.
Do you suffer from plantar fasciitis? Is it hindering you from running, walking around, or performing other activities that you enjoy?
This can be a frustrating condition to deal with. The good news, though, is that there are a lot of different strategies you can utilize to experience relief for plantar fasciitis.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about getting relief from your pain and preventing it from coming back in the future.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a condition characterized by foot pain — specifically, pain in the arch and heel of the foot.
This is a degenerative condition that causes inflammation in the fascia, or connective tissue, that runs across the bottom of the foot.
If someone is dealing with plantar fasciitis, they’ll likely experience the following symptoms:
- Pain and tenderness in the heel and bottom of the foot
- Difficulty walking or putting weight on the foot (especially first thing in the morning after waking)
- Swelling of the bottom of the foot (often accompanied by a feeling of warmth)
These symptoms can come on gradually, or they may appear suddenly. When they appear suddenly, it often happens after athletic activity.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
There are a lot of issues that can contribute to plantar fasciitis.
It’s common in individuals who are active and involved in sports like running, soccer, dance, basketball, or any other activities that place a lot of impact on the feet.
This condition can also be a symptom of another health problem, such as reactive arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, or skeletal hyperostosis.
Poor movement patterns (often caused by muscle imbalances) may contribute to symptoms of plantar fasciitis as well. If you walk or run in an incorrect or inefficient way, you may be more prone to inflammation and irritation because of the extra strain you place on the plantar fascia.
What are Plantar Fasciitis Risk Factors?
Anyone can develop plantar fasciitis. The following individuals are more likely to experience it, though:
- Those who are female
- Those who are overweight or obese
- Those who stand or walk a lot as part of their job
- Those who have very high arches or very flat feet
Being part of these groups is not a guarantee that you will develop plantar fasciitis (and not being part of them does not guarantee that you won’t). However, it may increase your chances.
How to Treat Plantar Fasciitis
When it comes to treating plantar fasciitis, there are a lot of different remedies you can try. The following are some of the most common treatments that help you find relief from your symptoms:
Often, when you first experience symptoms of plantar fasciitis, the first step a physician will take is recommending anti-inflammatory medications.
There are a lot of anti-inflammatory medications (both prescription and over-the-counter) that can help to minimize your pain and bring down any swelling you may experience.
These can be very helpful for those dealing with acute pain or a flare-up after engaging in some kind of intense physical activity.
Sometimes, physicians also recommend steroid injections.
An injection of a steroid, such as cortisone, can help those who are struggling with severe pain and inflammation.
It’s especially helpful when the pain and inflammation are resistant to other medications. They can also help when someone needs temporary relief to help them push through an athletic event or other activity.
Steroid injections are not a permanent fix, but their results do last for quite a long time.
A more long-term solution to plantar fasciitis is physical therapy. Working with a physical therapist can help you correct the movement patterns that may be causing your plantar fasciitis.
A physical therapist can also teach you stretches and strengthening exercises that will minimize your pain and discomfort and allow you to continue participating in the activities you enjoy or must do as part of your daily life.
Shockwave therapy sounds intimidating. It’s actually quite non-invasive and effective, though.
During this treatment, a doctor uses sound waves to “shock” the plantar fascia. This, in turn, stimulates blood flow to the feet. This increased blood flow helps to heal the tissue and reduce inflammation.
Shockwave therapy can also stun the nerves in the feet. This helps to minimize any pain and/or discomfort you might experience.
Some physicians have started using platelet-rich plasma injections (also known as PRP injections) to treat plantar fasciitis, too.
This procedure involves the extraction of your own blood. That blood is spun in a centrifuge to isolate and concentrate the platelets (to which are attached growth factor proteins).
This leaves you with a growth factor-rich solution that gets mixed back in with your plasma. That solution is then injected into the tissues of the foot to expedite the healing process.
Some research shows that PRP injections can be more effective than steroids when used to treat plantar fasciitis.
A Tenex procedure involves a small incision in the bottom of the foot. After the incision is made, a physician uses an ultrasound machine to target and remove scar tissue from the foot.
Once you’ve healed from the procedure (this usually takes about 10 days), you can be back on your feet with a significant reduction in pain and discomfort.
Splints and Orthotics
Sometimes, physicians recommend that patients dealing with plantar fasciitis wear special splints or custom orthotics.
These devices help to position the feet in a way that minimizes pain and discomfort. They also provide additional arch support.
Often, splints and orthotics are coupled with other treatment options.
If none of these other treatments are successful, surgery may be the only option left. Surgery for plantar fasciitis involves the removal of the plantar fascia from the heel bone altogether.
In most cases, you can go home the same day that your surgery takes place. You’ll have to wear a splint or boot, though, and avoid putting weight on your foot for quite a while afterward, though.
How to Prevent Plantar Fasciitis
There are also a lot of things you can do to keep plantar fasciitis from coming back. Once you’ve got your symptoms under control, here are some additional steps you may want to take:
Weight loss is often one of the first lifestyle changes a physician recommends to someone who’s dealing with plantar fasciitis. This is an especially common suggestion for patients who are obese or overweight.
Losing weight can help to minimize the pressure placed on your feet each day. This, in turn, can help you to experience relief and minimize the inflammation you may be dealing with.
Change Your Shoes
It is strongly advisable to dispose of old, worn-out shoes. Wearing different shoes can be helpful, too. Switching to a pair of supportive shoes and leaving high heels and dress shoes at home (or wearing them only on special occasions) often works very well when it comes to reducing plantar fasciitis pain.
If you play sports, you may need to invest in a new pair of sport-specific shoes designed for those with foot pain or plantar fasciitis. You can also wear orthotics or insoles with them, in some cases, to make them more comfortable and supportive.
Stretch and Strengthen the Feet
You can keep plantar fasciitis at bay, in many cases, by doing exercises that help to stretch and strengthen the feet. This can be especially helpful after undergoing surgery or another procedure designed to treat plantar fasciitis.
Some exercises you may need to do include resistance band exercises, calf raises, and “doming” of the feet. When done on a regular basis (on their own or combined with other treatment methods) these exercises can be very effective.
Untuck Your Sheets
This might seem like a strange one, but it really can help.
If your sheets are tucked in too tightly, they may force your feet into unnatural positions while you sleep. If your feet are positioned in this way all night, you may be more prone to pain and tightness when you wake up in the morning.
Loosening your sheets all the way before you crawl into bed at night may help you to feel better and less achy the next day.
Get Relief for Plantar Fasciitis Today
There are a lot of different options you can utilize in order to get relief for plantar fasciitis.
If you’ve been struggling with this condition and find that it’s affecting your day-to-day life (or if you want to address it before it begins to affect your day-to-day life), be sure to keep these treatment and prevention tips in mind.
They’ll help you start feeling better and get back to the activities you enjoy in no time.
Do you want to learn more about plantar fasciitis treatments? What about treatments for other common foot conditions?
Either way, we’re here to help at Premier Podiatry. Contact us today for more information on our treatments or to schedule an appointment for a consultation.