Healing your heel: Plantar fasciitis – treatment and management

Have you begin experiencing a deep ache or stiffness in the heel of your foot? Or perhaps you feel a sharp or dull pain when you first stand up in the morning? You might have noticed this a while ago and now the pain is worse. Or maybe it has come on suddenly, after heavy exercise. If this sounds like you, you might be experiencing the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. It hurts, it can make doing simple activities uncomfortable, and it should be treated as soon as possible. This blog gives you several key tips about what you can do when it comes to plantar fasciitis treatment and management.

What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a very common foot complaint that presents itself as heel pain and pain around the sole and arch of the foot. It is a strain in the part of your foot that connects your heel to your toes – this is called the plantar fascia – and in some cases is caused by micro-tears to the area. It can feel like a throbbing pain or strain that is usually worse first thing in the morning or after exercise. It can come about via prolonged standing, walking and running.

The condition can appear if you:
· recently began walking or running more than you are used to
· started exercising on hard surfaces
· strained the sole of your foot during a workout
· have not properly warmed up your calf muscles before exercising
· wear improper footwear during exercise

Will plantar fasciitis heal itself? In usual cases, plantar fasciitis can be treated with home remedies and enough rest – taking between two and four weeks for a noticeable improvement. However, if you have been suffering with the condition without doing anything about it, it could take longer to heal than if you catch it early and put in place the right routine. You may wish to visit your doctor for a precise diagnosis and to receive a more accurate time frame for recovery. If the condition requires it, they may refer you to a specialist who can provide a targeted treatment plan that could include the use of steroid injections and even shockwave therapy.

For the most part, plantar fasciitis treatment can take place from home with straightforward solutions. Let’s look at several ways to keep the condition under control, reduce pain and aid a full recovery.

Plantar Fasciitis - Treatment and management

Certain plantar fasciitis treatment exercises, like stretching and special plantar fasciitis massage, can help speed up recovery. Coupled with pain management and rest, you should be on the road to recovery in no time.

Support yourself – Make sure you wear shoes with good support for the heel and arches. Avoid high heels, and when exercising make sure your shoes are fit for purpose. It might be time to ditch your old training shoes and opt for a new pair.

Ice, ice, baby – Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce pain. A lot of people find relief by rolling a frozen can under their foot for several (5–10) minutes at the end of the day. This provides the positive effect of the cold with a mild stretch under the foot and across the painful part of the sole. Otherwise, a bag of frozen peas in a towel applied to the area will do.

Stretch it out – Stretching your foot can bring relief from the pain as well as helping your foot heal. Do this by taking your toes in one hand and gently bending them back towards your shin, and with the other hand, caress the base of your heel, making sure your sole is taut. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat at least three times. This stretch should be performed first thing in the morning, before you stand up.

Over-the-counter painkillers – While plantar fasciitis has little to do with inflammation, the moderate use of over-the-counter pain medication, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be an effective method of relieving pain in the short term.

Orthotics and shoe inserts – The use of orthotics as part of your treatment can protect your feet and speed up recovery. Orthotics (custom-made and more advanced insoles) will help support your feet as you walk and stand throughout the day. Speak to a medical specialist who can prescribe you with the right fitting support for your feet. If your condition isn’t as severe, or you don’t want to go through the process of visiting a specialist, an expert in your local shoe store may be able to fit you for a pair of insoles that could help provide the support you need in the short term.

How long does plantar fasciitis take to go away?

The timeframe for plantar fasciitis treatment and recovery can be anywhere from two or four weeks to a few months. This will depend on how early you have been diagnosed with the condition and the consistency that you bring to your treatment. Plantar fasciitis is a gradual condition that develops over time. If it is not treated through rest and the other tips above, it will get worse and ultimately take longer to heal. So, early detection and good treatment practices are key. Act now and recover sooner.