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Plantar Fasciitis FAQ

Plantar Fasciitis Treatment Options

Plantar fasciitis treatment is aimed at controlling the inflammation which causes the pain. There are several treatment options so that each patient can find the strategies that suit them and their condition the best. Different treatment options can be chosen, dependant on the stage and severity of the condition and pain experienced.

Rest is the one of the most important treatment strategies for all cases of plantar fasciitis. Refraining from physical activity that exacerbates the condition allows the inflammation to subside, which eases the pain. Resting the affected foot usually eases the most severe pain associated with the problem.

Applying ice to the underside of the foot, near the heel, helps to alleviate even severe pain quickly. Ice packs are really helpful when the condition flares up and the sudden severe pain is felt. Applying an ice pack as soon as possible to the heel relieves the pain and eases the inflammation. Continuing to apply an ice pack every few hours, will help to reduce the ongoing inflammation and pain. By sitting or lying down while the ice is doing its work, you are allowing the rest and the ice to work together to bring about pain relief.

When people first experience the pain of plantar fasciitis, they may reach for over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen or aspirin, to help control the pain. By easing the inflammation in the ligament, these medications help to ease the pain. Some people find that they need prescription strength anti-inflammatory medication if the proprietary ones are not effective.

Rest, ice packs and anti-inflammatory medication form the first approach to treating plantar fasciitis. Some people only experience the one incidence of the condition or find that it returns only infrequently. These simple treatment options may be sufficient in these cases, especially when followed by preventative measures that help to eliminate future occurrences.

However, if the condition keeps recurring or you find that you are constantly suffering foot pain, further investigation and treatments may be warranted. These options treatment include:

Exercises: plantar fasciitis exercises are simple stretches and exercises that can be done at home, usually morning and night. Exercises that stretch the calf muscles, Achilles tendon and plantar fascia are very effective at relieving the condition and easing the pain. Your doctor, specialist or physical therapist will show you how to do these exercises correctly.

Orthotics: special shoe inserts help to hold the foot in the correct anatomical position while supporting the arch of the foot correctly. These are helpful in allowing the patient to carry on with their normal daily activities and to work, pain-free. There are generic shoe inserts available or you can have your orthotics custom-made, if your condition warrants it.

Plantar fasciitis socks and splints: these are worn at night and are designed to keep the foot flexed and the tendons stretched while you sleep. The arch can't contract during the night when wearing a splint, which is what causes the intense pain first thing in the morning.

These treatment measures are effective in most cases of plantar fasciitis although the condition may return in the future. For stubborn cases of the condition and for those that keep recurring over time, there are further options available.

Cortisone injections: injections of corticosteroids can help to relieve the pain of plantar fasciitis but multiple injections are not recommended due to the potential for injury to the ligament. There is also a newer method of delivering the corticosteroids through the skin which is not painful like the injections.

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT): this is new treatment method for chronic cases of plantar fasciitis. Sound waves are used to induce healing in the heel and sole of the foot. ESWT is usually recommended for patients whose condition has not responded to the previous treatment options, but before surgery is considered. There is, as yet, inconclusive evidence of the effectiveness of this treatment.

Surgery: surgery is considered as a last-resort treatment option because of the risks and possible complications of such a procedure. In the most common surgical treatment, the plantar fascia is detached from the heel bone.

Only a small percentage of patients need these more advanced plantar fasciitis treatments with the majority of people responding well to the more conservative treatment options. You may need to temporarily curtail your exercise regime, or alter it, but with the correct shoes and a few simple changes to your lifestyle, these restrictions should be short-lived.


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