What is the Most Effective Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis?
When it comes to treating plantar fasciitis, there are a lot of options, from simple exercises you can do on your own to drastic options like steroid injections or surgery. But which of all of these available options is the most effective treatment? When you have pain from plantar fasciitis, you don’t want to be trying treatments that may or may not work. Instead, you want to start with the most effective plantar fasciitis treatment available. The problem is knowing which one that is, and it starts with understanding all of the treatment options and how they work.
Plantar Fasciitis Explained
Before we can understand the treatment of plantar fasciitis we need to know exactly what we’re dealing with. Inside your foot, there is a strip of tissue called the plantar fascia. This ligament attaches to your calcaneus (or heel bone) and then stretches along the bottom of the foot to spread fibrous tissue out to connect to the toes. It is this ligament that becomes injured, sustaining tiny tears or becoming inflamed to cause you heel pain. Once this injury occurs it is important to seek treatment for plantar fasciitis. Check out our infographic for a quick visual rundown.
What Causes it?
There are quite a few ways doctors are treating plantar fasciitis, but there are even more ways that you can sustain an injury to this area. Normally, it is caused by repetitive contact with the floor or another unforgiving surface. In fact, part of treating plantar fasciitis is finding out what caused the injury to begin with, whether that means taking a rest from your morning jog for a few days while the area heals or going with more involved plantar fasciitis treatments. While there is no definite plantar fasciitis cure, there are usually things that you can do to avoid injuring it again.
Here are some things to consider when your plantar fasciitis treatment requires that you try to solve the mystery of how you injured your plantar fasciitis in the first place. You experience the symptoms because that connecting tissue is swollen, or because that connecting tissue has either shortened or tightened. This can be caused by many things but some of the most common are: overtraining, wearing the wrong shoes or worn-out shoes, weight gain that puts more weight on your feet than your body is used to (especially with pregnancy) or an abnormal foot shape.
Let’s begin by discussing the plantar fasciitis treatments one by one. Most people that have experienced this heel pain do not go to their doctor right away. It seems like a small injury, one that isn’t important enough for your doctor but PF is painful and can become debilitating if not treated.
Common and Easy-to-Manage Treatments
Pain Management: What most people do is try some of the common plantar fasciitis treatments that can be done at home with a minimum of fuss. One solution is to take over-the-counter pain medication. This is a good idea but will not fix the underlying issue. The class of painkillers known as NSAIDs (such as Ibuprofen) is made to reduce swelling and inflammation, so they may be able to help your plantar fasciitis cure. However, taking pain medication without solving the problem of why you sustained the injury is a bad idea. The pain may be gone, but the underlying problem is still there.
Home Physical Therapy: There are a couple of physical treatments that patients claim are helpful in treating plantar fasciitis and help to heal the injury and stop the heel and foot pain. One of those is massage, which can be done yourself, by a massage therapist or by rolling a tennis ball beneath your feet. This massage will cause a reduction in pain and even help with the treatment of plantar fasciitis long-term. There is also stretching to try to reduce the tightness and inflammation. Stretching of the calves and bending the toes back in a stretch are both recommended. Check out our list easy to do plantar fasciitis stretches.
Ice: Very simply, apply a bag of ice to the bottom of the foot to reduce swelling and to help with pain relief.
Taping. One way of treating plantar fasciitis is by taping the foot with something like KT tape. This is a specific technique that is made to reduce the impact and use of the plantar fascia. There are videos demonstrating proper taping technique, but you may need a special wrap such as the one offered by KT Tape to use this treatment.
Splints, Shoe Inserts and Walking Casts: If the problem is severe enough, your doctor may recommend that you wear a device that will reduce the wear on the ligaments and reduce your pain, as well as allowing the area to heal. A walking cast allows you to treat your plantar fasciitis while still having the full range of movement. A splint or insert may do the same job and be less obtrusive.
Serious Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis
Steroid injections: The first of the serious procedures is a steroid injection. This is where your doctor will inject a steroid directly into the affected area to reduce the swelling and give you pain relief. However, this isn’t a long-term solution and, in fact, might actually weaken your plantar fascia to the point of rupture if you have more than one or two steroid shots.
Shock Wave Therapy: This is a drastic procedure with very little evidence to show that it makes a significant difference in healing your plantar fascia. The procedure itself is painful, and can cause bruising, swelling, numbness, pins-and-needles and of course pain.
Surgery: In extreme cases where there is no other choice, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the plantar fascia from the heel bone. This will weaken the arch of your foot, but you will have less pain. This is usually only recommended if the patient is having a great deal of pain and has tried all of the other treatments for plantar fasciitis that has been discussed.