Plantar fasciitis can make everyday living a challenge. Your heel feels sore and stiff every morning and after you've been sitting for a while. Stabbing pains may hit you when you walk up stairs or attempt to work out. Plantar fasciitis can thwart your fitness plans and make working on your feet seem impossible, but, thankfully, several ways exist that your podiatrist can treat this common condition.
Your podiatrist will likely recommend starting with conservative treatments for your plantar fasciitis. Rest your foot for several days or several weeks. Take time off from running, jumping, and other exercise that may irritate the connective tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot. Apply ice packs to your heel three or four times per day for about 15 minutes to reduce inflammation and pain.
Also stretch your calves, Achilles tendon, and the bottom of your foot daily. Tight calves and Achilles tendons are a common cause of plantar fasciitis, so keeping these tissues loose can ease pain and prevent it from returning.
Since wearing poorly fitted shoes often causes plantar fasciitis or makes it worse, your doctor may recommend orthotics to help improve the fit of your shoes and take pressure off your plantar fascia. Wear these orthotics daily. Your doctor may also give you a night splint to put around your foot while you sleep at night.
Switch to shoes that have a wider toe box, a low heel, and plenty of arch support. Avoid high heels and flat sandals — these can delay healing and even make symptoms worse.
If rest, ice, stretching, and orthotics don't bring relief, the next step is often laser therapy. This non-invasive treatment involves shining low-frequency laser light over the affected area. The laser stimulates the mitochondria within cells in your plantar fascia and the surrounding tissue, which ultimately reduces inflammation and the related pain.
Laser therapy is completely pain-free and only takes a few minutes. Most patients need between six and eight treatments to experience the desired results.
Also known as ESWT, this state-of-the-art therapy involves sending shock waves through the plantar fascia to stimulate healing. The treatment is completely non-invasive and a great choice for stubborn cases.
You just lie back on the treatment table, and your doctor administers a local anesthetic to the area to be treated. Once your heel is numb, your doctor will use ultrasound to visualize the damaged plantar fascia and treat the affected tissue.
ESWT is highly effective. The average patient experiences about a 92 percent reduction in pain after just one treatment. You may have mild soreness or brushing after the treatment, and results may take a few weeks to develop as your body heals.
Gentle, noninvasive treatments like those above can often treat plantar fasciitis very well. However, sometimes patients benefit from medicine injected directly into the affected area.
Your doctor can prepare an injection of steroids to calm the inflammation, often with a numbing medication, and inject the medication into the area where you have the most pain. This will deliver the medication to the exact spot where you need it the most. An injection can relieve plantar fasciitis pain for several weeks or months at a time.
Only about five percent of plantar fasciitis sufferers require surgery. If you have tried nonsurgical methods for more than six months without relief, your doctor may suggest surgery as an option.
The most common procedure used to treat plantar fasciitis is called the plantar fasciitis release. The surgeon makes a small cut in the plantar fascia ligament to release tension, thereby reducing pain and inflammation.
In recent years, this is usually done endoscopically, so you will only have one small incision below your anklebone. Patients typically return to regular activities three to six weeks after surgery.
If you suffer from ongoing heel pain, don't suffer in silence. Plantar fasciitis can be stubborn, but it is highly treatable with guidance from your podiatrist. Make an appointment with Camden County Foot & Ankle Associates to find out which of the above treatment options is best suited to your needs.