Plantar fasciitis is a very common cause of heel pain in adults. Your symptoms might include pain on the sole of your foot as soon as you get out of the bed and walk. You could have heel pain after a long period of sitting. It can resolve on its own, but many patients need to see a doctor or healthcare professional to undergo more aggressive treatment. In this post, I share some suggestions for nonsurgical treatment of plantar fasciitis.
Ice or cold therapy
Applying ice to the bottom of your foot can help with your heel pain. Rolling your foot over a cold or frozen water bottle might help as well.
Stretches against the wall done on a regular basis can be very helpful. Likewise, sitting in a chair and stretching the plantar fascia can help as well. Pulling the toes toward the head and holding that stretch of the tissue on the bottom of the foot can help decrease pain if performed regularly.
In addition to the exercises to stretch your Achilles, calf muscles and plantar fascia, a physical therapist can try modalities such as ultrasound to try to improve your pain.
Wearing a night splint
While wearing a splint at night can be uncomfortable, they can be very effective. Most people tend to sleep with their feet and ankles pointed down (plantar flexed). In this position, the microscopic tears in the plantar fascia heal in a contracted position. With the first steps in the morning, the plantar fascia forcefully stretches, causing tremendous pain. Wearing a splint on your foot and ankle through the night keeps the ankle pointed toward the head (dorsiflexed). This position helps the plantar fascia heal in a stretched out position.
Orthotics or shoe inserts
Off-the-shelf heel cups or shoe inserts might decrease pain with walking. Some doctors might prescribe custom-made orthotics placed inside shoes instead.
Occasional use of over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medications to decrease pain might allow less pain with stretching exercises and daily activities.
Occasionally orthopedic surgeons will offer to inject cortisone into the plantar fascia at the source of the pain. Often these injections are used after the less invasive options fail to provide complete relief. It is believed that multiple cortisone injections increase the chance of rupture of the plantar fascia.
If you have heel pain, you should consider seeing a doctor. Heel pain from plantar fasciitis can be very aggravating for affected adults. Fortunately one or more of these nonsurgical treatment options can often relieve pain within weeks.
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