Top 10 Plantar Fasciitis Treatments For Lasting Relief

If you’re there you know it-the pain in the bottom of the foot that hits when you take your first step out of bed in the morning. And you’re definitely not alone; over 3 million Americans suffer from plantar fasciitis every day. With no clinically proven cure for plantar fasciitis many struggle as they try to find the best way to deal with the pain and resume normal daily activities.

What is plantar fasciitis? The answer to that is pretty simple: it’s an inflammation of the plantar fascia, the thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes. Stabbing pain is often felt in the heel area; the pain is at its worse upon waking in the morning.

What causes plantar fasciitis? Many factors can contribute to PF such as poor biomechanics, obesity, people who stand and walk for many hours of the day and people with stiff calf muscles, resulting in decreased flexion of the foot.

What isn’t simple is how to treat plantar fasciitis with little known about the cause of the injury and how to prevent it. While it’s common in athletes with up to 10% of runners affected by plantar fasciitis, there’s no consensus on when and why some are afflicted by the condition while others with similar routines are not.

What we’ve done is compiled a list of the top ways to treat your plantar fasciitis. While there’s no one universal fix, any combination of these tips will go a long way in getting you back on your feet and active once again.

Short Term Treatments

  1. Rest: Without question the first step in treating your plantar fasciitis is rest, stopping whatever activity was the likely cause of the inflammation to begin with. The good thing about plantar fasciitis is that-when treated properly-it usually goes away after a few months. Many PF sufferers report that resting the injured foot (or feet) coupled with some minimal icing of the afflicted area can go a long way in not only relieving the pain, but also in healing the injury.
  2. Stretching at home: For many the next step is to begin with a few basic stretches that can be done at home. Yaakov Golding, PT, DPT and Owner/Clinical Director of PT on PARK has been treating patients suffering from plantar fasciitis for many years out of his New York City office. Golding suggests two basic stretches for every PF sufferer: stretching the calf muscle, which can be done by standing on a step and letting your heels hang off the edge; and freezing a bottle of water that has ridges on it and roll the affected foot on the bottle back and forth for about 5-10 minutes daily.
  3. Plantar Fasciitis Night Splints: Most people don’t like interrupting their daily schedules so using a night splint to treat plantar fasciitis is effective that way. The night splint keeps the patient’s ankle in a neutral position overnight, stretching the calf and plantar fascia while you sleep. Night splints are used to prevent the ankle from resting in extension which is what happens when we sleep and our bodies relax, says Golding. The downside to night splints is that it can take time to get used to sleeping with a bulky brace, making it imperative to find a high quality brace with many good customer reviews.
  4. Therapy Wraps, Compression Socks and Heel Pads: This category likely has the most extensive selection of plantar fasciitis products, which is both a good and bad thing. The good: there are many non-expensive options that really work for many people. Inserting a small heel pad, or wearing a PF therapy wrap or compression socks throughout the course of the day can help heal your condition without disrupting your daily routine.
    The bad? You need to make sure you’re avoiding the myriad cheap products on the market, products that don’t really work to heal the pain. Trying a couple of cheap products that don’t work will end up costing you more in the long run. Make sure to read the reviews on any product you buy.
  5. Orthotics and Comfortable Shoes: Another common way to treat PF is with orthotics. Custom made orthotics can be costly and many plantar fasciitis patients have found a lot of success with high quality off the shelf orthotics, a much cheaper alternative to custom made. Coupled with a quality, comfortable shoe or sneaker they will make your daily routine more comfortable.Longer Term Treatments

     

  6. Weight Loss: While this should be the goal of any American carrying a few extra pounds, it is of utmost importance for overweight people suffering from plantar fasciitis. Even losing 5-10 pounds can have a significant impact in relieving the pain.
  7. Physical Therapy: PT can be a very effective way to help heal plantar fasciitis. “We use multiple interventions to treat plantar fasciitis”, says Golding of PT on Park. “Modalities such as moist heat and ultrasound, and therapeutic taping are used to decrease symptoms but only give short term relief. Manual therapy such as stretching and ice massage, along with therapeutic exercises to stretch and strengthen the tight muscles and fascia are used to give more long term affects.
  8. Cortisone Shots: If conservative treatments are not effective, anti-inflammatory agents can be injected by a medical doctor. However, cortisone shots only mask the pain and don’t “heal the heel”, the underlying issue still remains.
    If the condition is very painful and you can’t even do any therapy this may be a good first step that would allow you to treat your plantar fasciitis.
  9. Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy: A non-invasive procedure that may be the last step before surgery, extracorporeal shock wave therapy is believed to relieve chronic PF pain by tearing the scar tissue, which seems ironically like reinjuring the affected area. New blood vessels then form and the healing process can begin anew. This treatment is generally done for those who have been suffering with PF for close to a year. It’s a new way to treat PF; it may not be covered by your insurance.
  10. Surgery: If pain persists after a number of months or even up to a year, some doctors will recommend surgery to help relieve the pain. The most common surgery is known as plantar fascia release, in which your doctor will actually cut a part of the plantar fascia to help relieve tension in the tissue. Surgery is done in only about 5% of plantar fasciitis cases; you can expect to be in a brace, cast or cam walker for about 3 weeks after surgery.

Traveling Comfortably With Arthritis

15 Oct 2018 Articles

By Mordechai (Mark) Shedrowitzky, PT, MS
Owner/Director of Rehabilitation Associates of Brooklyn

Now that summer is approaching I frequently overhear the same conversation between patients in my office.

“Are you going to be visiting your children this summer?  No.  I don’t think so.  It’s a long trip and with my arthritis I’ll never be able to get out of the car when I get there.”  This is a conversation that has the potential to go entirely differently with some education.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is the inflammation of a joint or joints, which is where two bones come together.  According to the CDC there are approximately 50 million people in the United States with arthritis, including approximately 294,000 under the age of 18.

What does arthritis come from?

There are many different causes of arthritis, including wear and tear on the joint, autoimmune issues, gout, trauma, psoriasis, side effects from certain drugs, and many more. There are at least 100 types of arthritis and associated diseases. We will focus on osteoarthritis, the arthritis caused by general wear and tear, although this discussion applies to most types of arthritis as well.

Why is traveling with arthritis uncomfortable?

There are a number of negative effects that arthritis has on the joint.  There will typically be the loss of or softening of the cartilage which serves to protect the ends of the bones.  There will also be the loss of normal joint fluid which serves as a joint lubricant.  In severe cases there will be spurring (extra bony growth) on the ends of the bones.  Due to these changes in the joint there is typically stiffness and/or pain when trying to move the arthritic joint out of a position that it has been in for more than a few minutes.  This is why one of the hallmarks of osteoarthritis is having pain and/or stiffness in the morning until you move around for a few minutes.

The key to traveling comfortably with arthritis is to keep in mind the causes of pain and stiffness and plan for them.  What I usually recommend to my patients is the following:

–When traveling short distances most people do not have significant issues caused by arthritis, but with trips that last longer than 20 – 30 minutes there may be stiffness and pain, especially when attempting to exit the car.  To minimize this issue try to move the seat back as far as it will go to allow for movement of the affected joints during the ride which will help ward off some of the potential stiffness.

— Additionally, if the ride will be lengthy, then stopping to exit the car is recommended every 30-45 minutes.  Once you get out of the car, just a short walk for 30-60 seconds will stop the pain/stiffness from setting in.  If at all possible, range of motion exercises should be done while traveling to promote lubrication of the affected joints.  This will also help blood circulation in that area of the body which will be beneficial in remaining limber.

–Another useful strategy used to decrease difficulty associated with traveling is to take an anti-inflammatory medication.  I would recommend that clearing the use of anti-inflammatory medication with your physician prior to taking it if you are not on a regular regimen of it.  This is because the use of these medicines is contraindicated in people with certain medical conditions such as stomach ulcers, unstable high blood pressure, etc. It would be helpful for those with arthritis to plan their scheduled anti-inflammatory medication around departure time.   If the anti-inflammatories are taken 20 minutes prior to departure there will be less pain and stiffness in the affected joints upon arrival at the destination.  If there is significant stiffness and/or pain in the affected joint upon arrival, it would be helpful to use a moist heating pad as well as perform range of motion exercises to restore function of the affected area.

Things to consider when planning a trip

  • The walking distance from the car to your hotel/home
  • Are there stairs that you will have to use, and if yes, how many
  • Distance to the elevators
  • Are there handrails/grab bars to assist in tub and toilet use
  • Are there elevated toilet seats
  • Is there wheelchair accessibility if needed
  • Is there room service available if you are unable to leave the hotel due to pain

So there is certainly no reason to stay home this summer.  Get into your car and travel.  Go visit your children and grandchildren.  See the sights you have always wanted to see.  Keep in mind that you can always consult your physical therapist or physician for guidance in managing your arthritis.  Have a great summer!

For further information regarding arthritis or any other musculoskeletal or neurological issue please feel free to contact a physical or occupational therapist at Rehabilitation Associates of Brooklyn at 718-616-1450 or email us at info@rehabilitation-associates.com.  We are located at 2072 Ocean Avenue, Suite 101, Brooklyn, NY 11230

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