How to Treat Plantar Fasciitis Foot Pain

If you are on your feet all day and start suffering aching pains in your foot, there’s a significant chance this is Plantar Fasciitis. We’ve already talked about why running brings a lot of positive benefits for moms out there.

However, if you are a runner, or on your foot often, some people develop a seriously painful foot condition called Plantar Fasciitis.

My own mother struggled with this condition due to genetics, weight, and a lifetime of working on her feet.

This is painful condition in the feet that comes from inflammation of the plantar fascia. It can be a difficult condition to treat and prevent because of the amount you use your feet. Every day we put harsh wear and tear on our feet without realizing how much of a beating they take. Each time our feet hit the ground, the plantar fascia is engaged, tension is increased, and stretching happens.

Plantar Fasciitis comes from micro tears in the plantar fascia, which is the tissue that connects your heel to your toes. The micro tears cause pain and inflammation, which can cause excruciating heel pain in the morning. This condition is most common among runners, those who are obese, and athletes. If you fall into one of these categories, it is important to take steps to prevent Plantar Fasciitis for the future. Yet, it cannot always be prevented so here are some tips on how to treat Plantar Fasciitis.

Medications for Plantar Fasciitis

Medications cannot cure Plantar Fasciitis, but they can help manage the pain, which is the worst part of the condition. Most of the time, NSAIDS (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) can aid in reducing inflammation and soothe the pain. These can include Aleve (Naproxen), aspirin, Motrin or Advil (Ibuprofen).

Other medications that are often used are ones that are directly injected into the feet by doctors or another health care professional. These are corticosteroids that can take the pain away for a couple weeks or up to one and a half months. The steroids are normally injected either into the side of the heel, the arch, or on the underside of the heel. The shots can be painful themselves, which is why other methods may be preferable to try first, especially if you don’t like getting shots.

The steroid shots work by directly targeting the inflammation itself, rather than medications that are swallowed by mouth that are more of a general anti-inflammatory agent. The steroids also reduce swelling and pain around the area, which make them very effective in treating Plantar Fasciitis.

Non-Medicated Options

Medications do not work for everyone, or they may work but do not take the agony completely away. They may be used in conjunction with non-medicated options, such as night splints, orthotics, and physical therapy. By combining these therapies together, you have a better chance of fighting off Plantar Fasciitis and keeping the pain away.

Shoes for Plantar Fasciits

One of the best solutions to PF is to buy a proper pair of shoes that won’t, at the very worst, make the condition any worse than it is and at best, help your foot actually recover over time. There are many brands of shoes out there, but from what we’ve seen the Asiscs Gel Nimbus or Asics Gel Kayana shoes seem to be pretty effective with PF for runners, if the reviews are to be believed. This site gives a good overview of the treatments for plantar fasciitis

Night Splints

Night splints come in a variety of designs, but all of them are worn during the nighttime while your feet are resting. Once the night splints are in place, they gently stretch the plantar fascia in your feet. As you wear these on a regular basis, the ligaments in the feet will stretch out, so your plantar fascia gets longer and stretches more easily when you move. Eventually, the plantar fascia and the feet will prevent micro tears on their own because they will be extra flexible due to the gentle stretching night splints provide.

Orthotic Inserts

So if you use night splints during the night, you may be wondering what you can do during the day. Orthotic inserts can be put in various shoe types. They provide you with arch support, cushioning in your heel, and overall stability so your feet stay comfortable as you walk.

Orthotic inserts realign your feet so you walk with a natural gait. When you walk as your body was made to, the pressure is dispersed among your feet, impact is absorbed more evenly, and the feet get the support they need. Orthotic inserts can make the difference between having sore feet at the end of the day and being ready to go for a walk.

Note that padded inserts are not the same as orthotic inserts. If your feet need extra cushioning, without any support or stability, padded inserts may work for you. However, if you have Plantar Fasciitis and have pain on a regular basis, you may benefit more from orthotic inserts.

Dr. Scholl’s inserts seem popular and quite affordable.

WebMD give a good list of some shoe inserts that may be suitable.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy includes going to see a physical therapist who will work with you and help you do exercises to ease the pain of Plantar Fasciitis. Along with this, there are other therapies they can provide for you, which you may not otherwise have had access too. Physical therapists are excellent resources because they have extensively studied the body and understand how everything all works together.

Stretching

Stretching is a large part of physical therapy. The goals of stretching on a regular basis are to alleviate the pain, elongate the ligaments, and improve the overall health of the feet. It is important to follow the instructions for stretching as your physical therapist tells them to you. Too much stretching can worsen the micro tears in your plantar fascia and too little stretching will not get you any results.

Depending on your condition, the physical therapist may recommend you to stretch once or twice a day. During each stretching exercise, you will do three to five repetitions of each stretch. This ensures your feet have a thorough stretch to loosen up the ligaments.

If you have trouble stretching on your own, there are devices that can help you perform stretches. These are made by ProStretch and can help reduce the pain and stop Plantar Fasciitis. It also helps conditions such as Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, and tight lower leg muscles. This can be a good option if you require a little extra help with your foot stretch.

The American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society gives some good stretches that will help alleviate some PF conditions.

Exercising

Besides stretching, exercising is another way to keep Plantar Fasciitis away while healing it. When you exercise, it is also important to strengthen the muscles in the feet. The stronger your supporting muscles are, the less likely the ligaments and tendons are to tear.

There are a variety of exercises that can be done at home without any special equipment. Some just take a towel or the weight of your body. Other exercises benefit from the use of equipment. On examples is the Elign Archxerciser Foot Strengthening Device. This device is designed to help with Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Spurs. It is about the size of your foot, easy to use, and can be taken wherever you go.

Taping

Another therapy the physical therapist may recommend is taping. This is done by using athletic tape around your foot to give it more stability as you walk. Once it is properly taped, you will notice less pain. This will also work to prevent micro tears as you walk.

Normally your physical therapist will demonstrate how to tape your feet first so you understand how to do it correctly. Your feet should be allowed to breathe, so don’t leave it on too long, especially all day and all night. If taping seems difficult for you, or you just cannot get the hang of it, there are arch bandages that can be used in place of tape. One of these is called the PediFix Arch Bandage. It is an elastic band that is put in the middle of the foot, directly around your arch. It may be washed and reused multiple times so it is a good tool to have around.

Last Resort Options

After you have attempted all of these methods for months or years, your doctor might talk to you about more intensive procedures. It is very uncommon that Plantar Fasciitis requires surgery, but it does happen. Before surgery, your doctor may try extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT).

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy

ESWT is non-invasive and non-surgical, yet it is left as a one of the last options before surgery. There is no downtime with this process and many people find relief from chronic pain conditions, such as Plantar Fasciitis. The way ESWT works is the procedure stimulates a certain area of your body so it produces more connective tissues. Once these tissues are built up, you will experience less pain because the tissue will be stronger.

ESWT also reduces the pain because it over stimulates the nerves, which send pain signals to the brain. After the nerves are over stimulated, the sensation will be reduced and your brain will not experience such strong pain signals. Our research reveals that after people had an ESWT treatment, their pain went down from about a 7.7 to a 0.6. This is a huge difference, especially if you’ve experienced pain from Plantar Fasciitis for many years.

Surgery

If you have tried everything else and still suffer from Plantar Fasciitis, only then will your doctor have a conversation with you about surgery. Since it is a serious procedure, it is considered a last resort. If you do require surgery, keep in mind that it takes time to heal afterward and the pain may not be gone right away.

When you do have surgery, the plantar fascia is cut to release tension in the foot. Normally only one-third of the tension will be released because some tension is still required when you walk. If too much tension is removed, you will have to go back under the knife to correct it.

There are risks to having an operation for Plantar Fasciitis, as with all procedures. Some of these risks include:

  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Infection
  • Bleeding

Remember that surgery is a last resort, therefore it is a good idea to attempt all the other options first. Talk to your doctor or health care professional about the right option for your specific Plantar Fasciitis condition.

Home Remedies for Plantar Faciitis

There are some things you can do at home to help treat Plantar Fasciitis as well.  These are aimed at relieving the pain and healing the micro tears in your plantar fascia.  Putting your feet up in the air will relieve pressure off your plantar fascia. This gives your feet a break and allows the micro tears to heal.  Remember to wear good shoes or house slippers because if you walk without support, the micro tears will get worse or come back fast.

Another thing you can do is put ice on the bottoms of your feet. Ice will soothe your pain while reducing inflammation. Don’t keep ice on your feet for more than 20 minutes at a time. A good idea is 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off.

If you are a runner, athlete, or exercise regularly, try switching to something more low impact while your feet heal. For examples, switch to some gentle exercises and activities that are easy on your feet and joints.

Wearing the right shoes for Plantar Fasciitis is extremely important. Shoes will support your arch, keep your ligaments in line, and keep the plantar fascia from tearing. If shoes are not taking the pain completely away, add orthotic inserts. Inserts can be added to all types of shoes, including every day shoes, hiking boots, and tennis shoes.

Sin there is no cure for Plantar Fasciitis, it is important to try to avert it as much as you can. Stretching and strengthening can be a great aid in healing the condition and keep it from coming returning. Furthermore, keep off your feet as often as your body requires you too. Take breaks immediately once the pain hits. If possible, try to avoid exercising on hard surfaces, like concrete, that can aggravate the bottom of your feet. In cases where this cannot be avoided, it is especially important to wear the proper shoes that provide ample cushioning and support to disperse the impact. Plantar Fasciitis can get better with the proper care and treatment. Talk to your doctor and physical therapist about what options are right for you.

Useful Plantar Fasciitis Resources

If you suffer from PF, here are some resources we’ve found with some legit information: