What to Do About Plantar Fasciitis

Struggling with plantar fasciitis (policeman’s heel)? You’re not alone. Some experts estimate that roughly 2 million people in the United States will struggle with this condition, too. Anyone with this condition knows just how frustrating it is to wake up to a painful, inflamed heel.

What are the complications of plantar fasciitis?

This is one condition that should not be ignored. Why? Because, left untreated, plantar fasciitis can become a long-term problem. In fact, it may even result in other issues with the entire foot, knee, hip, and even back.

What are the treatment options for plantar fasciitis?

While this condition is painful, there are fortunately several ways to fight it, including the following…

1. Traditional Primary Care Treatment

When consulting with your primary care physician, they may recommend the following treatments for plantar fasciitis:

Medication (pain relievers)

Inflammation is managed using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDs. These are prescribed by physicians to be taken over a number of weeks at least 2-3 times a day.

Steroid injections

Severe pain that fails to respond to the aforementioned NSAIDs is often treated with steroid injections. As for the procedure itself, the steroid is injected into the plantar fascia at its most painful point. The relief is temporary and lasts approximately one month. However, inflammation will not return for several months.

Sometimes these options alone will not do the trick; in the most severe cases of policeman’s foot, doctors typically opt for the following treatment…

2. Surgery

In this surgical procedure, the plantar fascia is completely removed from the bone.

When is surgery preferred?

Surgery is the last resort if each of the above fails to provide relief to the patient.

Is the procedure inpatient or outpatient?

This option is an outpatient procedure, meaning you will return home after the procedure is completed.

What happens after surgery?

Post-operation, you will likely need to stay off of your foot and wear a boot or splint.

If seeing your primary care physician doesn’t seem to do the trick, there are other professionals you can seek help from…

3. Various forms of therapy

Physical therapy is a common treatment for plantar fasciitis. Some of the exercises that a therapist might have you practice include:

Shockwave therapy

This is therapy that uses sound waves to “shock” the plantar fascia, causing an increase of blood flow to the area and promoting healing of the tissue.

Athletic tape

This provides foot support and keeps the foot from moving in a direction that will exacerbate your condition.

Tenex procedure

Using an ultrasound, scar tissue is removed via a small incision. Patients are normally able to return to their usual activities within 10 days.

Of course, physical therapy often involves the use of stretching…

4. Stretching Exercises

Calf stretching

  1. In this exercise, the patient is told to stand and face a wall, placing their hands on the wall.
  2. Keeping both feet parallel to one another, step one foot behind the other.
  3. Lean gently toward the wall with your back heel continuously on the ground. Hold this position for 10 seconds and then switch feet.
  4. This exercise is to be repeated on each side several times.

Stretching bottom of foot

  1. While sitting down, cross one foot over the opposite leg.
  2. Hold and gently bend your toes backwards.

Stretching and exercise

Patients are instructed to stretch the bottom of their foot, Achilles tendon and calves. Strengthening the lower leg via exercise is recommended. This action eases the pain, creates stability in the ankle joint and, is a preventative measure against the return of plantar fasciitis.

If physical therapy isn’t your style, there are many other treatments for plantar fasciitis…

5. Podiatry

Podiatry is defined by the treatment of the feet and their ailments. Some of these methods include:

Shoe inserts

More commonly referred to as orthotics, arch supports, or insoles, these items increase support to the area by adding more cushion. These are available at any drug store or they can also be custom made. Choose a firmer shoe insert for the best results.

Heel cups

These are pads shaped like the heel that are inserted into the shoe. They have the effect of raising the heel, relieving tension and providing added cushion.

Night splints

Worn during sleep, night splints maintain the foot at the desirable 90-degree angle so that your plantar fascia is stretched consistently overnight.

Walking cast or boot

Also known as a controlled ankle motion (CAM) walker, this is the last resort when other methods have not realized success. This method forces the foot to rest, relieving pain. This is not a cure, so when the boot is removed, the pain may return.

While these methods are often short-term solutions, there are lifestyle changes that you can implement to deal with plantar fasciitis…

6. Lifestyle Changes

More often than not, lifestyle changes can work as a longterm solution for plantar fasciitis. Some of these lifestyle changes include:

Losing weight

Overweight patients are encouraged to diet and exercise to relieve pressure on the plantar fascia.

Low-impact exercise

Cycling and swimming are recommended since they will not make the condition any worse.

Avoiding high-impact activities

Jumping and running should be avoided since they place pressure on the feet.

So, what should you take away from all of these symptoms and treatments for plantar fasciitis?

Final Thoughts

Plantar fasciitis is a pain—literally. However, that doesn’t mean anyone with this condition has to suffer forever. By working with a doctor, patients will be able to discover the best treatment plan for their unique situation. Whether that be therapy, medications, surgery, something else, or a combination of various treatments, plantar fasciitis is completely treatable.

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