Going Over the Major Forms of Treatment

by David McCullough

There are various forms of plantar fasciitis treatment available, ranging from simple exercises and ice, all the way up to the use of drugs and surgery. Most patients will be able to recover simply from the implementation of some of the less invasive forms of treatment in accordance with the appropriate amount of rest, although severe cases may require additional therapy when the more common treatment options have failed.

A suitable treatment regimen for plantar fasciitis may take between two to three months to produce a cure, although this will depend heavily on the extent of the patient’s condition and their ability to respond to treatment.

Patients experiencing heel or foot pain for a prolonged period should immediately seek the help of a medical professional, as an appropriate treatment regimen can only be implemented upon a successful diagnosis. Delaying treatment may cause the patient’s condition to worsen, which over time can lead to both a chronic, and debilitating ailment.

Fundamental Treatment Options

There are several fundamental treatment options that should benefit almost any patient who may be suffering from heel pain brought on by plantar fasciitis, and these include rest, the application of ice to the affected areas, the use of NSAID pain relievers, and an altering of the activities that may be causing the patient’s condition to proliferate.

A patient who is on their feet for much of the day should try and avoid any further activity that may place an added amount of stress on the feet. Free time should be spent sitting or lying down, and ultimately resting until the pain and inflammation subsides to a significant degree.

The application of ice to relieve the accompanying inflammation should be applied to the affected area(s) of the foot in ten to fifteen minute intervals at least two to three times per day. This will prevent further inflammation and should convey a degree of pain relief as well. The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should also be used as needed for the relief of the pain and inflammation.

Common NSAID pain relievers include Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and Aspirin, which should only be used after the appropriate consultation with a pharmacist or doctor. A combination of the aforementioned fundamental treatment options should begin to convey a certain level of benefit for the patient, although other forms of treatment are often pursued in accordance with these basic therapies.

Orthotics and Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis

Orthotics, or corrective shoe inserts as they are commonly referred to, can be placed inside the shoe to prevent abnormal motion and arch collapse. This should convey a beneficial effect to the patient by shielding the foot against further pressure that may aggravate the plantar fascia. Orthotics can also provide an additional layer of cushioning that can comfort the foot during movement, something that can also shield the foot against further stress.

Getting the best shoes for plantar fasciitis is critical when the patient needs to continue normal activity on their feet, as the proper footwear can help alleviate pressure and provide the necessary healing environment that is needed for a full recovery. The correct shoes for plantar fasciitis should essentially act as a brace for the entire foot, thus preventing any further stress caused by activity.

This means that getting the best shoes for plantar fasciitis is essentially about acquiring a shoe that is highly supportive, but comfortable to wear as well. While there are shoes designed exclusively for patients suffering from plantar fasciitis, common running and walking shoes can also work just fine. Patients again should be looking for a shoe that can provide the appropriate level of motion control in combination with the necessary level of arch and heel support to gain maximum benefit.

Foot Braces, Night Splints, Tape Support

Foot braces, night splints, and certain kinds of tape support can all alleviate the stress that occurs when the plantar fascia is at rest, and can thus promote healing. By stretching out the fascia while at rest, these devices can essentially give the damaged tissues a chance to heal, and can hasten the recovery process to a significant extent.

Various foot braces and night splints accomplish this via a stretching of the fascia by configuring the foot and leg is such a way to prevent the calf muscles and fascia from returning to their normal state.

This prevents the muscles from tightening up during rest, something that causes further stress to the fascia and the affected areas that are involved with plantar fasciitis. Certain types of taping techniques can also achieve similar  end goals, although a patient who is unfamiliar with such methods may have a difficult time in administering such a tape job on themselves over time. Most patients who benefit from these sorts of treatments utilize them during the nighttime hours, and in particular during sleep.

Exercises and Stretching

Certain stretching exercises can be utilized to help alleviate the pain that is associated with plantar fasciitis, and to help promote recovery times. Stretching of the heel and calf can strengthen the muscles that may be involved with the damage to the fascia, and can therefore help alleviate the accompanying stress over time.

Stretching exercises are most often done in the morning hours before the patient gets out of bed, or after prolonged period of inactivity. Done on a regular basis these types of exercises can significantly reduce pain, and speed up recovery times.

Drugs, Surgery, and Shockwave Therapy

Riskier and invasive treatment options are also available to patients who have tried other forms of treatment but still have not experienced a significant level of relief. Not including NSAID pain relievers, there are other types of drugs that may convey a beneficial effect, including the local injection of corticosteroids. These injections may only illicit a temporary benefit for the patient, and can be painful if not used with a local anesthetic.

Various surgical procedures, including plantar fascia release, carry significant risks, including the risk of nerve injury, infection, and rupture of the plantar fascia. These types of procedures are typically considered only as a last resort, and only a medical professional can make the determination of such a course of action.

Extracorporeal shockwave therapy may also be used for patients who are experiencing very severe cases of plantar fasciitis. The current evidence that is available has not yet conclusively established whether or not this form of treatment can successfully convey a level of benefit on a regular basis.

Behavior Modulation

Behavior modulation should always be considered as a part of any course of treatment for plantar fasciitis, as simple rest, and an avoidance of activities that may aggravate the fascia can help prevent further complications and healing.

A simple common sense approach should be utilized by any patient who desires relief, as eliminating, or reducing the activities that involve significant pressure on the foot can greatly improve recovery times.

Athletes, and other individuals who may work on their feet for much of the day should in particular take note, as sometimes a full recovery can only occur after certain modifications are made to their normal routines.

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