If you wake up in the morning and your very first steps cause pain in your feet, then you probably have plantar fasciitis. This mainly occurs due to the inflammation of the ligament, plantar fascia (it is a tissue that connects the heel and toes), and specifically in runners.
With proper treatment, the condition gets better in a few months. But to speed up the recovery you need to see the doctor for professional consultation.[wpsm_toplist]
When to see a doctor?
Plantar fasciitis can get worse if left untreated, or you may start doing severe exercises and running, which is why it is recommended to see a doctor if the pain isn’t responding to treatments. The doctor does some additional testing along with some X-rays to make sure that there are no other causes of foot pain.
The first thing a doctor does is examine the foot to see where the pain is originating and coming from. The doctor also conducts other imaging tests to make sure that the cause of pain is inflammation of the ligament, plantar fascia. Since, the cause of foot-pain can also be a pinched nerve or broken nerve.
Plantar fasciitis is usually based on the physical examination and medical history of the patient. During the medical examination, the doctor checks the tenderness and stiffness of the foot to locate the origin point of the pain to figure out its cause.
Most of the time, no tests are required to diagnose plantar fasciitis. Just an X-ray or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is done to make sure that there is no other problem like fracture, causing the pain. X-ray sometimes shows a piece of bone sticking out of the heel (called spur). Previously, these bones were blamed for the pain caused in the heel but most of the people with heel spur don’t feel pain.
Plantar fascia recovers within 6 to 18 months without requiring any treatment. In some cases, non-operative treatment for 6 months can also resolve the issue. With these treatments the plantar fascia recovers 97% of the time.
There are different therapies and treatments to ease the plantar fasciitis pain. Some of the widely applied medical treatments are listed below. Have a look.
Plantar fasciitis patients are often given non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (also referred as the NSAIDs that can ease the inflammation in the ligament, plantar fascia.
Other than this, Doctors also prescribe different pain killers like Motrin IB, Advil, and ibuprofen to reduce the pain caused due to the inflammation in the plantar fascia.
Doctors usually inject steroid medicines in the tender area which can provide ease from pain temporarily. However, multiple steroid shots are not recommended since they weaken the plantar fascia ligament which can rupture it overtime. For tissue healing, patient’s blood with platelet-rich plasma is often taken which is injected in the plantar fascia for recovery.
Steroid injections are often recommended when the NSAIDs are not enough for the relieving of the pain. The steroids are injected where the pain is the most severe. These steroids help in easing the pain for almost a month, and tone down the inflammation for quite longer.
Other than this, cortisone injections are also given to the patients with plantar fasciitis. These injections are specifically used for reducing inflammation and relieving severe pain caused by the damage of the ligament, plantar fascia.
Doctor refers the patient to a physical therapist if medications, rest, steroids and home remedies aren’t working. A physiotherapist assists the patient in learning the different exercises which strengthens the ligament plantar fascia along with the lower leg muscles.
Moreover, massages, ultrasonography and contrast baths can also help in long-term healing. After medications, injections and physical therapies, if there are zero or low signs of recovery then the doctors recommend other procedures, even surgeries.
Doctors also recommend custom-fitted arch supports which helps in distributing the pressure on your feet evenly, thus reducing the pain.
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy:
Shock wave therapy involves “shocks” with the sound waves. It helps in stimulating the blood flow which helps in healing the tissue. Other than this, it stuns the nerves in the plantar fascia region which stops the pain. The extracorporeal shock therapy is often used for treating chronic plantar fasciitis which is not responding to the more-conservative therapies.
Tenex procedure is basically a small process that involves a small incision and is over in a few minutes. Doctors usually send the patient over for an ultrasound which helps in targeting the area of inflammation and removing the scar tissue. With this procedure, the patient can recover as soon as 10 days.
Ultrasonic Tissue Repair:
This method involves an invasive technology which helps in speedy recovery. The process involves ultrasound imaging which guides the needle-like probe in the damaged ligament (the plantar fascia tissue). Along with the ultrasound energy, the probe tip vibrates swiftly to break the tissue that is damaged and then suction it out.
If the plantar fascia pain gets worse and is not responding to the distinctive medical treatments, then doctors more likely opt for surgery.
During the surgery, the doctors took off the plantar fascia from the heel bone. Very few people require surgery for plantar fascia that is when the condition worsens. The operation is done as an open procedure or with a small incision with an anaesthesia. After the completion of surgery the doctors ask you to wear a splint so that you don’t put weight on the foot.
Stretches for Plantar Fasciitis:
Foot stretching exercises help in improving the strength of the muscles, relieves the pain and promotes the flexibility of the muscles and ligaments in the foot.
There are numerous inimitable foot stretches that can help in reducing the tension in the calf and foot. Here are few that can be helpful for plantar fasciitis patients.
Stretch the Calf:
Muscle tightness can make the pain and inflammation in the plantar fascia worse, which is why loosening the muscles is important. Here is how you can stretch to reduce the pain.
Lean your hands on the wall and straighten the knee of the leg with plantar fasciitis. Also, bend the other knee in the front. Now, keep both feet on the ground so that you feel stretching sensation in the calf and heel of the extended leg. Hold this for almost 10-15 seconds and repeat the exercise for 3-4 times to reduce the pain.
Keep a round object under the foot with plantar fasciitis and roll it back and forth. This helps in loosening the muscles. Most physiotherapists often recommend golf balls, foam rollers and rolling pins for stretching the muscles. Easy way to stretch your muscles is by sitting on a tall chair, then placing the round object under the feet and rolling it around for two-three minutes. Repeat the process several times until you feel better.
Flexing helps in increasing the blood flow which eventually relieves tension in the heel and calf, which in turn reduces the pain. You can use stretch band, and elastic from the store for this exercise. Here are the steps you need to follow for this exercise:
Keep your legs straight and sit on the floor. Now, take the stretch band or elastic and wrap it around the feet. Hold the ends of the elastic band in your hands. Not pull the toes away from the body and return to the original position. Repeat this exercise for 10-12 times for effective results.
Towel Curls Stretches:
You can also use a facecloth or a hand towel to stretch the calf muscles and foot. Towel curl stretches are really easy to do. Here are the steps you can follow for the towel curl stretches.
Sit comfortably on the chair and keep both the feet flat and keep a small towel in front of your feet. Now hold the centre of the towel with the toes and curl it with the toes. Relax your feet and repeat the process until you feel relaxed.
Marble pickups is one of the best stretch exercises for people with plantar fasciitis. The marble pickup stretch is quite simple. Here are the steps you need to follow.
Sit on the chair with bent knees and keep the feet flat on the floor. Now put some marbles along with a bowl under your feet. By curling your toes, pick one marble at a time and put them in the bowl. Repeat 20-25 times to relax your feet and reduce the pain.
Home remedies for Plantar Fasciitis:
For those who avoid medical treatments and prefer home remedies, we have listed some best home therapies for plantar fasciitis.
Foot massage, specifically in the arch area helps with relieving the pain caused by plantar fasciitis. By massaging the arch area with an ice bottle where the ligament is the most damaged, you can reduce the inflammation and pain to a really great extent.
The RICE method:
RICE method is the most convenient first aid procedure for foot injuries and damages like plantar fasciitis. The RICE method include:
- Rest the injured and painful area for some time.
- Ice the area for a few minutes (approximately 20-25 minutes) to reduce the inflammation.
- Compress the area with a soft piece of cloth to lessen the swelling.
- Elevate the feet by placing some pillows underneath, especially while sleeping.
For supporting the arch of your foot, you can use additional shoe inserts. These inserts reduce the stress on the damaged plantar fascia. It is specifically helpful for people who spend most of their time on foot. For people with plantar fascia, soft arch inserts can work as well. Before opting for a shoe insert, make sure you consult a podiatrist, an expert in foot health.
Apply Lavender Oil:
Lavender oil has anti-inflammatory properties which can help in reducing the pain in the plantar fascia caused because of its swelling and inflammation. To apply lavender oil to reduce the pain, dilute the oil in a carrier oil like olive or coconut oil and then massage it on your heels and arch area of the foot. With regular use, this will help in reducing the pain within a few days.
Wear Supportive and Comfortable Shoes:
Try to wear shoes that have a good arch support along with a low heal, especially if you are on your foot all day. This helps in supporting your foot and plantar fascia which ultimately prevents plantar fasciitis.
If you have high arches, foot pads or the orthotic shoe inserts help in distributing the pain evenly in your foot. You can get the ready-made shoe inserts at different pharmacies. Other than this you can also have custom made orthotics according to your foot-size. You only need to wear these orthotics for a few weeks until your feet are back in normal condition.
Wear a Night Splint:
A night splint is a great recommendation for people with plantar fasciitis. They help in stretching the arch area of the foot overnight which helps in relieving the pain. These are most suitable for people who have had plantar fasciitis for almost 6 months. by wearing them regularly you can get rid of the pain and inflammation in a short span of time.
An ice cube works as a good massager. On the other hand, an ice pack can help in reducing the inflammation effectively. For instant pain and inflammation relief, use a cloth or a towel to cover the ice pack and hold in on the painful area. Repeat this process 3-4 times daily for almost 10-20 minutes for effective results.
As we have already discussed, there are numerous distinctive therapies, treatments and medications for people suffering from plantar fasciitis. Most of these treatments and remedies have proven to be effective.
Meanwhile, more research is also being conducted to further enhance the treatment methods, but these remedies and treatments are by far the best ones to reduce pain, inflammation and infection in the plantar fascia.