Plantar Fasciitis Treatment
Waking up in the morning can be hard enough as it is, much less waking up to excruciating foot pain during the first few steps of walking. Second would be the terrible heel pain you experience during the day after exercise or following your work day, particularly if you are on your feet all day. Well you are not alone. Surprisingly, ten percent of the population describes similar symptoms at least once per year resulting in one million visits to the doctor. Plantar fasciitis treatment at this point, is a must!
You can call it a heel spur, runner’s heel, jumper’s heel, or even policeman’s heel, but medically this condition is most commonly termed plantar fasciitis. Now I must admit, researchers and doctors do not know exactly what causes plantar fasciitis. Some say heels spurs, but many with these symptoms do not have heel spurs. Others say inflammation, but some studies have not been able to confirm the presence of inflammatory cells in the foot. Emedicine may provide the best answer stating that:
Excessive stretching of the plantar fascia can result in microtrauma of this structure either along its course or where it inserts onto the medial calcaneal tuberosity (heel). This microtrauma, if repetitive, can result in chronic degeneration of the plantar fascia fibers. The loading of the degenerative and healing tissue at the plantar fascia may cause significant plantar pain, particularly with the first few steps after sleep or other periods of inactivity.
In summary of many definitions of plantar fasciitis, many factors including trauma, flat foot, high arches, breakdown of tissue with age, poor circulation, overuse and poor running mechanics are all causes. Some poorly cushioned shoes and barefoot running can also increase your risk.
The good news is that 90% of cases resolve with conservative plantar fasciitis treatment, although it may take “forever to heal,” AKA many months.
Here are the steps you should take at home for plantar fasciitis treatment:
- Stretch your foot first thing in the morning upon waking up. Use a towel or a T-shirt and wrap it underneath the bottom of your forefoot. Pull the towel towards you with both hands to stretch your heel and the bottom of your foot. Perform the stretch 3-5 times or more and hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds.
- Put a soda can on the floor near your bed and roll the foot over the can for three to five minutes to loosen up the tissue at the bottom of your foot.
- Ice your foot when it hurts for plantar fasciitis treatment. Ice works well in many of these cases. Try ice baths, or an ice massage where you freeze a bottle of water and massage the bottom of your foot. Whatever method you use, apply the ice for 20 minutes and always give yourself 20 minutes of “no ice” time to prevent a freeze burn.
- Buy new shoes to wear daily or exercise in, and replace every three months or so. I have personally become fond of the Nike Air Relentless shoe.
- I hate to say this, particularly to athletes, but you may need to chill out and stay off your feet until your symptoms significantly resolve. In the mean time; however, you can still workout your upper body with workouts such as shadowboxing.
Your doctor may:
- Prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) pain medications to reduce “inflammation” around your heel. Corticosteroids by mouth or a corticosteroid injection may be beneficial.
- A splint may be worn to stretch your Achilles tendon, which has been shown to help.
- You may receive physical therapy treatments that involve stretching, ultrasound and iontophoresis, which moves topical medications through your skin to the plantar fascia.
- Last case scenario, you may be in the 5 – 10% who would benefit from surgical removal of the damaged tissue, which results in a resolution of symptoms in 70-90% of people.