The throbbing pain of plantar fasciitis is very common amongst the urban population grappling with obesity, wrong choice of footwear and rigorous runners. The pain that is caused by this injury is severe during the first few morning steps, but gradually subsides throughout the day. Many individuals suffering with this condition get used to the temporary relief that comes later in the day without opting for easy treatment methods. Plantar fasciitis can be easily managed through a variety of treatment option which are mostly non-surgical.
What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fascia is a thin ligament which runs across the bottom of your foot and connects you heel to the front of the foot. The ligament supports in arching of the foot which supplements our walking activity. Being an important part of the walking mechanism, the plantar fascia has to deal with a lot of wear and tear. The shock absorbing function of this ligament causes stiffness and pain when under stress. The collagen fibers present close to the attachment to the heel bone degenerates causing plantar fasciitis.
Treating Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is easily treated with mostly non-surgical methods with a very small percentage requiring surgery. The goal of any treatment technique you opt for should be to reduce the pain and stiffness, improve movement and restore normal function.
- Home Remedies
Resting your feet until the pain subsides and limiting the use of the affected foot throughout the day can contain the damage. But, it is not a feasible solution for individuals who work or are active throughout the day. Applying an ice pack to the affected area and performing the basic stretching exercises such as calf stretch, toe stretch and plantar fascia towel stretch (if the pain allows) can be useful. Home remedies though cannot address the underlying issue.
- Medication and Drugs
To reduce pain, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen and ibuprofen are used. Steroid shots are used if NSAIDs fail to relieve pain. These corticosteroids are injected in the tender area for temporary relief. Though the injections provide temporary relief, prolonged use can cause damage to the fascia.
- Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is an integral part of both surgical and non-surgical treatment plans. A physical therapist will advise you on exercises to be performed to keep your plantar fascia and Achilles tendon limber. The overall treatment plan will improve gait which is severely distorted and help take pressure off the affected foot.
- Braces and Support
Support equipment such as night splints are used to keep the foot in a stretched position which reduces the morning pain. Other orthotic equipment such as off-the-shelf heel cups, cushions and custom-fitted arch support are commonly used.
- Extracorporeal shock wave therapy
Shock therapy is used if the pain persists and other treatment methods fail to bring improvement. It involves sound waves as stimulants for healing. This technique is generally used on patients with a chronic plantar fasciitis condition.
Surgery is rarely performed and involves detaching the plantar fascia from the heel bone.
Though plantar fasciitis can be easily treated, it can also be prevented with simple measures such as keeping your weight in check, wearing comfortable footwear and avoiding rigorous running exercises.