- CONDITION - Plantar Fascitiis
CONDITION - Plantar Fascitiis
Plantar Fasciitis, Heel Spurs
Plantar Fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain in the world.
Plantar fasciitis is a condition that occurs when there is chronic inflammation to a large band of tissue on the bottom of your foot called the plantar fascia. Because this fascia is on the bottom of your foot, doctors call this area the plantar surface meaning sole of the foot in Latin. The purpose of this ligament is to help support the arch of your foot.
When this fascia becomes inflamed, doctors add the ending "itis" thus, the term plantar fasciitis. Sometimes, on x-rays, a heel spur is seen. However, it is not the cause of your pain. Numerous scientific studies have shown that the plantar fascia is the primary source of pain (i.e., don't let anyone talk you into surgery to remove the heel spur). The cause of this condition is not fully understood, but it is more commonly found in females and overweight people. When both feet are involved, this is sometimes associated with a certain type of arthritis, which can be evaluated with a simple exam and tests by your doctor. This problem can often caused by a heel cord (achilles tendon) that is too tight.
The pain occurs on the bottom of your heel, more towards the inside usually ("medial"). It hurts to take a step or walk. Most patients report that the pain is worst when getting out of bed in the morning. The pain usually gets better after walking around for a while. The reason the pain is worst in the morning is because the plantar fascia has had the chance to contract (shorten, tense up) all night long while you were sleeping. The pain can be described as a sharp pain (like stepping on a pebble) or a dull aching/throbbing pain.
Plantar fasciitis is very common, but luckily is easy to treat WITHOUT SURGERY!
Most orthopedic surgeons agree that plantar fasciitis should first be treated conservatively. This means without surgery. We have found that with the methods we describe below, 99% of our patients have had relief from their pain, without injections and without surgery!
The two most important steps in relieving your plantar fasciitis and heel pain are:
- Stretching your plantar fascia and heel cord.
- Providing cushioning for your heel to reduce the stress and pain.
Our ProCareHeel Cups are your complete package for relieving your heel pain. Not only do they provide you support and cushioning to relieve your pain, but you will also receive, free with each set, instructions for stretching exercises to help rid yourself of this pain quickly and easily.
Talk to most experts about the best treatments for plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis and they will say stretch, stretch and stretch. The key to relieving the pain is stretching the Achilles tendon complex. Our Plantar Fasciitis Dorsal Night Splint brace is one of the best we have seen to provide the best stretch of this area with the greatest comfort. The brace actually fits only on the top or dorsal side of your foot thus stretching the back of your heel with ease and comfort. Your heel can sit on your comfortable mattress and sheets instead of a sweaty and confining plastic brace.
In addition, the following is helpful to remember for most bone and joint problems: Control, Avoid, and Rehabilitate.
Control: Get your pain under control
- Heat is an easy and effective method to control the pain after the swelling has reduced (usually after 1-2 weeks). You can apply a heating pad on a low setting for approximately 10-20 minutes at a time. If you do not have a heating pad, you can use a soft terry cloth hand towel placed under warm (not hot) tap water.
- Cryotherapy (ice, cold therapy) is an excellent way to control your pain. Do not apply ice directly to your skin for more than five (5) minutes as it can cause burns. A device specially designed to cool your foot, ankle and heel (see our PolarCare Cub) can be used for longer periods, as long as you carefully follow the directions and discontinue its use if you have pain or a burning sensation.
- Over-the-counter pain medications can be of use. Acetaminophen (Tylenol™) can provide optimal pain relief with limited side effects. Anti-inflammatories such as Motrin™ (ibuprofen) and Aleve™ (naproxen) may also be beneficial, however, do not take pain medications for a prolonged period of time without consulting your physician. Occasionally, your physician may prescribe prescription medications such as anti-inflammatories or narcotics. However, their use should be limited to only a short period of time.
- Braces and heel cups provide pain relief by stimulating some of your nerve fibers which make you feel that your foot is more stable and secure. In addition to providing stability, heel cups provide a cushioning of your inflamed tissue. With plantar fasciitis, our ProCare Heel Cups can provide you with professional strength pain relief. These professionally designed and distributed cups are only available through health care professionals. The high medical grade material provides optimal shock absorption for even weight distribution. The exceptional medical engineering provides stability to your heel and gently elevates your heel to relieve pressure and pain. A specially designed material in the center of the cup provides extra cushioning to reduce the constant pressure causing your pain. These are not your run-of-the-mill pharmacy shoe inserts; they are medical-grade quality.
Avoid activities that cause your pain
Just like the old bad joke about the patient that told the doctor, "Doc, everytime I do this, my knee hurts" and the doctor replies, "Well, don't do that!" Although this may seem humorous, there is some truth to the joke. Avoid such activities as squatting, kneeling, heavy lifting, climbing, and even running. Listen to your body and make a list of activities or movements that increase your pain and DON'T DO THESE THINGS. Also, make a list of activities and movements that reduce your pain and DO THESE THINGS. For example, many doctors recommend the following (be sure to check with yours to make sure he/she agrees).
DON'T DO these if you have an ankle sprain:
- Avoid walking with poorly designed shoes (see our arthritis section for more information on proper shoes).
- Avoid walking in high heels- this causes more tightening of your heel cord which may increase your pain.
- Avoid walking on hard surfaces such as concrete.
DO these if you are recovering from a sprain:
- Get up and stretch, walk about, and change positions often.
- If you are overweight, consider entering into a sensible weight loss program.
Stretch, stretch, stretch your heel cord and foot as instructed by your therapist or physician.
- Wear proper fitting, well-constructed shoes (see our arthritis section for more information on proper shoe wear).
- Have a positive attitude. Remember that most people with acute heel pain recover within 4-6 weeks.
Rehabilitate your heel
The basic philosophy of rehabilitation for a simple heel pain is to strengthen and gently stretch the ligaments and tendons around your heel to help support the injured or strained tendons or ligaments. This includes your heel cord (Achilles tendon). In specific cases, your doctor may prescribe formalized physical therapy, with a therapist or trainer.
The keys to rehabilitation include:
Motivation to actually do the exercises. See our page on motivational strategies to improve your success.
Correct exercises for your problem. Remember, every set of our ProCare Heel Cups comes with an instruction sheet on how to do these exercises. See your doctor or physical therapist if you need advice in this regard.
Proper equipment. This equipment can either be at your therapist's office, at your health club, or items that you purchase for use at home. We have found that people who do their exercises at home are much more likely to benefit from the program as they more frequently perform the exercises. Luckily, most plantar fasciitis can be cleared up with equipment you already have around your home (such as a stair, a towel, and a soup can!).
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