Rogers Foot & Ankle Institute

Plantar Fasciitis Treatment: What Works And What Doesn’t

Jun 29, 2023
Plantar Fasciitis Treatment: What Works And What Doesn’t
Are you sick of feeling pain every time you move? Do you wish you could go back to when walking was fun instead of a chore? Plantar fasciitis, which affects millions of people around the world, is a common cause of long-term heel pain.

Are you sick of feeling pain every time you move? Do you wish you could go back to when walking was fun instead of a chore? Plantar fasciitis, which affects millions of people around the world, is a common cause of long-term heel pain. Finding the right medicine can feel like getting lost in a maze, and many people wonder if they will ever feel better. In this blog post, we look at the treatments for heel fasciitis that have been shown to work and debunk the so-called quick fixes that don’t work. Listen carefully as our expert podiatrists explain how to heal your feet and get you back on your feet without pain!

Understanding Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a common foot problem that affects many people all over the world. The thick band of tissue that runs from your heel to your toes and helps support your arch is called the plantar fascia. When this tissue gets swollen or irritated, it causes pain in the heel or arch of the foot. Pain in the heel or arch of the foot is the most common sign of plantar fasciitis. This pain is usually worse when you first get out of bed in the morning or after long periods of standing or walking. The pain could also feel like a sharp stab or a dull ache. There may also be pain and swelling in the area.

Overuse, repeated strain, and poor biomechanics are all potential causes of plantar fasciitis. For example, people who play high-impact sports like running and basketball may be more likely to get plantar fasciitis because they put their feet through a lot of stress over and over again. Other things that can cause plantar fasciitis are being overweight, having tight leg muscles, and wearing shoes that don’t have enough support or fit right. Also, because of the way their feet are built, people with flat feet or high arches may be more likely to get plantar fasciitis.

Think of your foot as a highly tuned machine. If one part of the machine isn’t working right, it can affect the whole structure. In the same way, if your foot functions aren’t working right because of something like plantar fasciitis, it can affect your whole body.

Effective Treatment Options

Fortunately, there are many effective treatments available for plantar fasciitis, and most people can find relief with conservative measures.

One of the most effective treatments for plantar fasciitis is physical therapy and stretching. Physical therapists can teach you specific exercises to stretch the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon, as well as strengthen the muscles in your foot and lower leg. These exercises can help improve your foot mechanics and reduce pain and inflammation.

Another effective treatment option for plantar fasciitis is pain relief methods like icing. Putting ice on the injured spot can help ease the pain and swelling. Heat therapy can also be used in combination with icing and cold therapy (contrast therapy) to increase circulation and reduce cramping and stiffness.

Footwear changes can also help treat plantar fasciitis. Wearing shoes with good support, broad toe boxes, and arch support can help alleviate pain by taking pressure off the plantar fascia. Over-the-counter shoe inserts or custom orthotics may also help provide additional cushioning and support.

In severe cases where conservative treatments are not effective, medical intervention like surgery may be considered. However, these options are generally reserved for patients who have not responded to other treatments.

It’s important to keep in mind that while these treatment options can be effective for many people, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating plantar fasciitis. Finding the best course of treatment may require some trial and error because what works for one person may not work for another.

Physical Therapy And Stretching

Physical therapy and stretching can be highly effective treatments for plantar fasciitis by strengthening the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the feet and ankles. A physical therapist can work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that incorporates stretches and exercises tailored to your specific needs.

For example, a common stretch for plantar fasciitis involves sitting in a chair and placing a tennis ball under the arch of the affected foot. Slowly roll the ball back and forth, using your foot to apply pressure as needed. This stretch helps to massage and loosen up the plantar fascia while also strengthening the muscles in the foot.

Another effective physical therapy technique is known as eccentric stretching. This involves lowering your heel slowly down from a raised surface, such as a step or curb, and then lifting it back up using your toe muscles. Eccentric stretching has been shown in studies to improve symptoms of plantar fasciitis by helping to promote the healing of the damaged tissue.

While physical therapy has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment for plantar fasciitis, some people may be hesitant to seek this type of care due to concerns about cost or time commitment. However, investing in physical therapy can often prevent more costly and invasive treatments down the road. Additionally, many physical therapists offer at-home exercise programs that can be done on your schedule.

Pain Relief Methods

There are several pain relief methods available for individuals suffering from plantar fasciitis. These methods aim to address inflammation & pain, which can make everyday activities challenging.

One of the most effective pain relief methods is icing. Using a frozen water bottle or ice pack on the affected area can help reduce inflammation and provide immediate relief from pain. Try icing for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times per day.

While over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help relieve pain and inflammation associated with plantar fasciitis, it’s important to speak with a medical professional before taking these medications regularly. Additionally, while massage may feel good on tight muscles, pushing too hard may damage already damaged tissue, drawing out recovery time instead of assisting with it.

Another method often used in conjunction with icing is heat therapy. Heat therapy promotes circulation, which helps alleviate cramping and stiffness in the plantar fascia. It is always best to alternate between cold and hot therapies to maximize benefit.

Footwear And Support

One of the simplest ways to alleviate plantar fasciitis pain is by using proper footwear and support. The right pair of shoes can make a huge difference in reducing discomfort, while incorrect or ill-fitting shoes can exacerbate the problem. Whether you’re an athlete or just an average person who spends a lot of time on their feet, investing in comfortable and supportive footwear can significantly reduce the impact on your heel.

Comfortable Shoes – The importance of comfortable shoes cannot be overstated when it comes to foot health. Shoes that are too tight in the toe box or lack cushioning and support are likely to cause plantar fasciitis, especially if worn for long periods. Thus, when looking for shoes for plantar fasciitis, look for those with soft soles, broad toe boxes, and arched supports. Many shoe brands specializing in orthotics offer models with removable insoles that allow your custom-made orthotics to fit comfortably inside.

Custom Orthotics – If the shoe fits, great! But in some cases, over-the-counter inserts may not provide sufficient relief. In such instances, custom-crafted orthotics can be a game-changer. Custom orthotics are molded specifically to the shape of your foot and provide personalized arch support, which can take pressure off the plantar fascia during activities like walking or running.

High-Heeled Shoes – Although certain high-heeled shoes might compliment your outfit, they are not always suitable for everyday use because wearing heels puts undue stress on your feet. High heels push your center of gravity forward and force more weight onto the front of your feet instead of onto your heels. This transfer of weight could cause severe discomfort later on if used regularly without substituting it with other options.

Compression Socks – Plantar fasciitis can benefit from good blood circulation, and compression socks designed for plantar fasciitis sufferers often offer relief. These ‘socks’ are meant to give a gentle squeeze around your feet and legs, which helps reduce swelling in the tissues surrounding the plantar fascia.

What Doesn’t Work

While there are countless treatment options available for plantar fasciitis, not all have proven effective. Additionally, some options have shown counterintuitive results, often with long-term adverse effects. Here are some of the most common treatments that don’t typically work effectively:

  • Steroid Injections – While they may offer temporary relief from pain, steroid injections are not considered a viable long-term solution as multiple steroid shots can end up weakening the plantar fascia’s already stressed area over time.
  • Night Splints – When struggling with plantar fasciitis pain, many patients turn to night splints in the hope that stretching out their heels during sleep will provide relief. But often, night splints can be uncomfortable, if not painful, to wear regularly, and they do little to resolve the cause of the problem.
  • Massage Therapy – While this option might temporarily bring desirable benefits, such as the immediate release of stress-induced body tension and reduced muscle stiffness, there isn’t sufficient evidence proving massage therapy’s overall effectiveness in healing plantar fasciitis. To make it effective, though, combine it with other permanent therapies like physical therapy or surgery if necessary.
  • Taping – Taping is one of those methods frequently mentioned when discussing plantar fasciitis treatment options. This method involves taping over the toes and foot arches to reduce stress on the plantar fascia. It works in principle but offers temporary relief only until your next tap session.

When To Consult A Medical Professional

Plantar Fasciitis can cause unbearable pain and discomfort, affecting your daily routine. Although self-care treatment may be practical for some, some cases require professional medical care.

Consulting a medical professional should be the first option if the pain does not subside after several weeks of self-care. Additionally, if the pain worsens and interferes with everyday activities, it is crucial to seek medical advice.

Most cases of plantar fasciitis improve within a few months with home treatments such as stretching exercises, proper footwear, and rest. However, sometimes it is necessary to seek attention from a medical professional. 

At Rogers Foot & Ankle Institute, we specialize in providing top-notch Plantar Fasciitis treatment delivered by experienced professionals in Eagle Mountain, UT. Don’t let heel pain hold you back any longer. Schedule an appointment today by calling 801-756-4200.