Plantar fasciitis is a painful foot condition that affects about 10% of American adults, becoming more common with age. It happens when the tough, fibrous band of tissue called the plantar fascia gets irritated and inflamed, and it’s a routine cause of persistent heel pain.
Running from the base of your toes to your heel, the plantar fascia supports the arch of your foot, helping your foot stay flexible while you walk. Sometimes, normal wear and tear causes the fibrous bands to break down, leading to soreness and inflammation. Plantar fasciitis pain is often at its worst when you first put your weight on your feet after resting or sitting.
The good news: While some severe forms of plantar fasciitis require surgery to correct, most people find effective and lasting relief with conservative treatments that don’t involve surgery.
At Richmond Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates in Richmond, Virginia, our expert podiatrists Weston Angermeier, DPM, and Rachel Hensley, DPM, use these 5 non-surgical strategies to ease or eliminate plantar fasciitis pain, so you can get you back on your feet again:
Physical therapy uses special exercises to increase your foot’s flexibility and strength, easing inflammation, relieving pain, and increasing circulation for better healing. Depending on your needs, your physical therapist might prescribe exercises to “loosen up” your Achilles tendon, reducing painful tension on your heel.
In addition to providing symptom relief, physical therapy can help prevent future problems by teaching you how to maintain foot strength and flexibility. Doing daily, at-home exercises can help you maintain and enhance these benefits.
If you’re overweight, excess pounds put a lot of stress on your feet. In fact, for every pound of excess weight you’re carrying, you put an extra 8 pounds of pressure on your feet with each step you take. If you spend a lot of time on your feet at work or during other parts of your daily routine, these effects can be multiplied many times over.
Losing weight takes that extra pressure off your feet, giving the plantar fascia time to heal. Typically, weight loss is prescribed along with one or more other non-surgical treatments to relieve pain and support optimal healing.
Custom orthotics are a lot different (and a lot more effective) than the one-size-fits-all shoe inserts you buy over the counter. Our team uses 3D scanning technology to create orthotics that support your unique foot shape. Orthotics relieve strain on your plantar fascia, providing your foot with ample support and giving your strained tissues time to heal.
Custom orthotics are made of state-of-the-art materials for optimal durability and comfort. Plus, they can be designed for different types of footwear, from athletic shoes to dress shoes.
Many people with plantar fasciitis have unusually stiff or tight tendons and supportive tissues that reduce foot flexibility and increase the risk of irritation, inflammation, and pain. Night splints are devices you wear while you sleep. The splint holds your foot in a flexed position, gently stretching the plantar fascia and the Achilles tendon to release tight tissues and help promote greater flexibility.
While over-the-counter pain medicines may help relieve plantar fasciitis pain to some degree, corticosteroid injections deliver anti-inflammatory medicine directly to the damaged tissues. Corticosteroids are very effective in reducing painful inflammation, so your tissues have a better chance to heal.
Far too often, people ignore their foot pain, thinking it’ll simply clear up on its own. Or, they mistakenly believe that foot pain is just “part of getting older.” The fact is, foot pain is never normal, and the longer you wait for treatment, the worse your symptoms can become.