A complete guide to understanding the different ways to treat plantar fasciitis, and ways to prevent it.
Experiencing pain in the foot is not uncommon, and if you experience throbbing pain in the heel as soon as you step out of bed in the morning, it may be a sign of plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is an internal inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is the linking tissue between your heel and toes. This condition is most commonly found among athletes and people who are obese. Although it can be very painful, plantar fasciitis can be treated over the span of 6 – 12 months.
The best thing to do, in case you experience the consistent pain in your heel, would be to visit your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and to avoid any further complications.
To be thoroughly certain about the root cause of the heel pain, the doctor would first conduct a basic examination. This includes determining where exactly the pain is rooted and ruling out any other possible causes of the pain through imaging tests and study of your medical history.
If the condition is diagnosed as plantar fasciitis, the doctor may suggest one or a combination of the below types of treatment to get rid of the inflammation and pain in the long-term:
1. Anti-inflammatory medication:
Usually, the first method of treatment is the prescription of Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These work in a non-intrusive way on the plantar fascia, reducing the intensity of the inflammation and offering relief from pain. Doctors usually prescribe these drugs in specific dosages for a few weeks, before examining its effect on the pain and deciding the next course of action.
2. Getting a steroid injection:
In cases where the pain does not subside with the prescribed dosage of NSAIDs, steroid injections offer a relatively quicker alternative. The injection might be painful, as is administered in the part of the tissue that hurts the most. However, the steroid injection has been known to reduce the pain for approximately 4 weeks and can continue to keep the inflammation in check for several more weeks.
3. Going to a physiotherapist:
Physical therapy is another option to consider if the prescribed NSAIDs do not cure the plantar fascia inflammation. The physical therapy would be designed to make the tissue stronger and more flexible through exercises. Massages are also an important part of such therapy. For additional relief in the comfort of your home, you can also request your therapist to recommend the best foot massager for plantar fasciitis suited for you.
Depending on your health, the therapist may also recommend exercises that flex and relax the muscles in the lower leg and the Achilles tendon. Additional techniques under physical therapy include regular ultrasonography and relaxing contrast baths over the course of a few months.
This method uses ultrasound to treat the inflammation. This is done by making a minor incision, directing the ultrasound at the scar tissue to remove it. This heals the pain completely, after which a rest period of 10 days is recommended.
5. Undergoing shock wave therapy:
If the results derived from physical therapy are not satisfactory, the doctor may recommend shock-wave therapy, in which sonic waves are directed at the plantar fascia to produce a ‘shock’ effect on the tissue. This technique re-invigorates the blood flow in the area and stimulates the nerves, resulting in pain relief.
6. Undergoing surgery:
The surgery procedure is usually recommended only after all other treatment techniques have been tested, without positive results. The surgery is done to remove the plantar fascia from the heel bone. The surgery is a relatively short one, however, the doctor may advise you to refrain from putting too much weight on the affected foot and use splints or specific boots for additional support for several weeks.
While there are multiple treatment options to cure plantar fasciitis, it is imperative to give the foot proper rest until the healing process is complete. Additional methods like placing an ice pack on the painful area a few times a day can also provide temporary relief.
Can I prevent plantar fasciitis?
Preventing the condition is better than going through the stabbing pain and the restrictions that it puts on your daily routine. In order to keep plantar fasciitis at bay, you can do the following:
- Keep your weight in check: Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation, which worsens if the heel is enduring too much weight. Make sure to follow a healthy diet and exercise regime to avoid being overweight.
- Always stretch before and after strenuous exercise: Keep your tendons, muscles, and tissues flexible by doing light stretching exercises. This will reduce the impact of any high-impact workout or activity and prevent inflammations like plantar fasciitis.
By staying fit and taking proper care of your feet, you can avoid having plantar fasciitis altogether. That said, if you do experience a symptom, the importance of timely medical consultation cannot be overstated. With the right treatment and proper care, the throbbing pain in the heel can be eradicated for good.
Thomas Matthys a former world-class track & field athlete and the founder of Swol Headquarters. He graduated from the University of Fordham with a Master’s degree in Science. Matthys is a certified sports nutritionist and personal coach of several professional athletes. Matthys has been involved in various clinical studies within Track & Field including one on the factors associated with muscle recovery and HIIT.