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How To Treat Plantar Fasciitis

Managing your chronic heel pain

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most commonly experienced causes of foot pain. Whilst it is common in athletes and other active individuals, less active groups of people can also acquire this ailment. Carrying a bit of extra weight and wearing shoes with inadequate arch support can both play big roles in causing this unpleasant and painful condition.

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis commonly presents itself as a stabbing foot pain that is most likely to be exacerbated by your first few steps out of bed each morning.

While the conditions name ‘plantar fasciitis’ suggests that this is an inflammatory condition, namely of the fascia in the sole of your foot, this is not entirely accurate.

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Plantar fasciitis is an overuse injury, like carpal tunnel syndrome and is probably more aptly described as “generalized plantar foot pain”. The difference between plantar fasciitis and other overuse injuries is that the plantar fascia is not a tendon - it is a sheet of connective tissue, more similar in structure to a ligament.

This fascia runs across the plantar surface of your foot and maintains the arch-like shape of the sole of your foot. Tension is constantly being place on this sheet of tissue to maintain this position, so it is understandable as to why this strain injury is so common.

A key point that should be made is that while the medical suffix “itis” is specifically used to describe inflammatory conditions, research has shown that the pain experienced in the plantar fasciitis condition is related to collagen degeneration and disorganization in the plantar fascia, rather than inflammation of the tissues.

The reality here is that the tissues on the plantar surface of your foot aren’t inflamed - they’re dying. The connective tissue cells are going through necrosis, and therefore you are experiencing pain. While this might sound scary and rather extreme, you must remember that this death is taking place on a minute cellular level. The result of the cell death that takes place is the replacement of healthy connective tissue with stiffened scar tissue.

How Can I Treat it?

A wide range of possible treatment options exist when discussing plantar fasciitis pain. As with most health conditions, some of the treatments available are more likely to be successful than others. Any singular treatments likelihood of success in treating plantar fasciitis depends on the individual and the exact cause of this case of pain - not just on the treatment itself.

In this article, the focus will be placed on treatments you can administer for yourself at home. If you feel your problem is more serious and/or too painful for you to continue with your day-to-day activities, you should contact your doctor.

  • Orthotics and Shoes

The strain that is placed on the plantar connective tissues while walking or running is largely responsible for many of the problems of plantar fasciitis. It makes sense that, by placing something under your foot to keep it in a nice, neutral arch position more passively, you’ll be helping to reduce stress on your foot tissues - and therefore reducing the scarring and pain being experienced. Specialized insoles and orthopedic shoes that feature anatomical arch support work well for the prevention and regression of any plantar foot pain you are experiencing.

How to choose Plantar Fasciitis Shoes?

For more information on how orthopedic shoes work to alleviate plantar fasciitis please visit Orthofeet plantar fasciitis page.

  • NSAIDs - Pain-Killers

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are a class of pain-killers that are commonly obtained as over-the-counter medication by many of us for common ailments like headaches. The most widely known NSAID is sold under the trade name Ibuprofen.

Whilst these pain-prevention drugs are not a cure for your plantar foot pain, they can provide you with effective relief for temporary durations of time.

Recall that plantar fasciitis is not actually an inflammatory condition, and therefore taking this drug - that is tailored to target inflammation - is unlikely to be a 100% foolproof method of pain reduction.

  • Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can take many shapes and forms and is of great benefit in a wide variety of musculoskeletal injuries. When looking for treatment for your plantar foot pain, it is a good plan to explore several different therapeutic routes to discover which works best for you and your feet.

While massage, manipulation and exercise assignment can be done through professional services, there are many physical therapy options you could explore for yourself with some basic guidance.

Exercises to stretch and strengthen your plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, and lower leg muscles have been found to be key in the treatment of many cases of plantar fasciitis. There exercises can be done daily while watching the TV or eating your breakfast and could make a huge difference on your road to recovery.

Deep tissue sports massage can help in a range of musculoskeletal conditions and sports injury - plantar fasciitis is no exception.

Massage can assist by stretching out the tissue and fibrous tendon that make up the plantar fascia, providing you with relief.

Multiple massage techniques can be applied to the feet, you might want to experiment and see what makes your foot pain feel best. Some of massage techniques might be mildly uncomfortable but should never be so much so that the manipulation is causing you enough pain to make you tense up.

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If Your Problem Persists…

You might find that the best way of targeting your plantar foot pain is to take things right back to basics.

Plantar Fasciitis is an overuse injury due to excessive strain being placed on the plantar fascia - so give it a break!

Stay off your feet for a few days, avoid high impact activities and give it some time. It might seem frustrating to wait around and do nothing, but that time spent taking it easy can be a huge investment in a foot pain-free future.

By Amanda Roberts