Plantar fasciitis treatment

Medically Reviewed By : Dr K. Hari Chandana

( Fellowship in Trauma, Fellowship in Pain Management )

Plantar fasciitis is a common foot (heel) condition. It happens due to inflammation of the plantar fascia. The term plantar refers to the region of the sole.

fasciitis indicates inflammation of the fascia. When you put repetitive pressure or excessive strain on plantar fascia, it can develop microscopic tears. Further, it can lead to swelling, irritation, and pain.

It is a common cause of heel discomfort in adults. It especially affects athletes or active individuals who spend prolonged periods on their feet.

Now you may be wondering what plantar fascia is.

So let’s first understand the role of the plantar fascia and its susceptibility to inflammation in plantar fasciitis.

Understanding this term is essential for diagnosing and managing this common foot condition effectively.

plantar fasciitis treatment

What is the plantar fascia?

It is thick, fibrous, and flexible connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot. It extends from the heel bone (calcaneus) to the base of the toes. It contributes to its overall stability during weight-bearing activities.

The primary function of the plantar fascia is to act as a natural shock absorber. Because it absorbs the impact that occurs with each step, it is also important during activities like walking, running, or standing for extended periods. 

Additionally, the plantar fascia plays a crucial role in maintaining the shape and integrity of the foot during various movements.

However, when you put excessive pressure on plantar fascia, it leads to inflammation. It causes pain, swelling, and difficulty in your daily activities. This condition of plantar fascia leads to plantar fasciitis.

Fortunately, you can resume your daily activities and reduce discomfort in your heel with proper treatment and care. Appropriate plantar fasciitis treatment will alleviate symptoms and promote healing.

What is the Fasciitis Treatment?

Plantar Fasciitis

The treatment of plantar fasciitis aims to reduce pain, reduce inflammation, promote healing, and address the underlying causes of the condition. 

The management of plantar fasciitis is typically conservative and non-invasive. It focuses on many self-care measures, lifestyle modifications, and medical interventions.

Let’s first discuss some home remedies that can manage plantar fasciitis.

How to Manage Plantar Fasciitis at Home

Home treatments are helpful in healing and reducing pain due to plantar fasciitis. 

However, you should not try these measures without a doctor’s advice.

1. Rest

Rest reduces the amount of stress placed on the plantar fascia. It can help reduce inflammation and promote the healing of plantar fasciitis.

So, It is important to avoid activities that aggravate the condition, such as running or jumping, until the pain has subsided.

2. Ice Therapy

Applying ice to the affected area can help to constrict blood vessels, which can help reduce swelling and inflammation.

It is advisable to apply ice for 10–15 minutes.

3. Supportive Footwear:

Wearing supportive footwear can help treat plantar fasciitis by reducing the amount of stress placed on the plantar fascia. 

Shoes with good arch support and cushioning can help distribute weight more evenly across the foot, which can reduce strain on the plantar fascia.

4. Night Splint

A night splint can help treat plantar fasciitis by keeping the plantar fascia stretched while you sleep. It can help prevent the fascia from tightening up overnight, which can cause pain and stiffness in the morning. 

5. Massage

Massage can help reduce tension and promote blood flow to the affected area. It can also help to break up adhesions and scar tissue, which can improve flexibility and range of motion in the foot. Thus, it helps in plantar fasciitis treatment.

However, it is important to use proper techniques when massaging the foot to avoid aggravating the condition.

6. Taping

Some people find relief by taping the foot to support the arch and reduce strain on the plantar fascia.

Taping can help to redistribute weight more evenly across the foot and improve foot posture and alignment, which can help reduce stress on the plantar fascia and heal plantar fasciitis.

7. Pain Relief Creams and Oils

Pain relief creams and oils can provide temporary pain relief in the affected area. These products typically contain anti-inflammatory ingredients such as menthol, camphor, or capsaicin, which can help reduce swelling and pain.

Some products may also contain essential oils, such as peppermint or lavender, which can have a soothing effect on the feet.

Nevertheless, it is important to choose products that are specifically for use on the feet. Also, follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

8. Weight Management

If you are overweight or obese, losing weight can reduce the stress on your feet and help improve plantar fasciitis symptoms.

9. Calf Stretching Before Getting Out of Bed

Before getting out of bed in the morning, perform gentle calf stretches by flexing your foot up and down. It can help loosen the plantar fascia before placing weight on your foot.

But if these measures don’t alleviate pain or help heal plantar fasciitis, Then, non-surgical treatments are usually the first step that a doctor can advise.

There is no doubt that the previously mentioned measures are also non-surgical options that you can do at home easily. 

However, some treatments can only be successful in a doctor’s office.

Let’s discuss what other non-surgical treatments can help you manage plantar fasciitis.

What is the Non-Surgical treatment for plantar fasciitis?

Some non-surgical treatments may require multiple sessions to achieve the desired results. So it is important to discuss the risks and benefits of any treatment with your doctor before undergoing it.

1. Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Your doctor may advise you to use NSAIDs (ibuprofen or naproxen) for a limited duration to heal plantar fasciitis because they inhibit the production of prostaglandins, which are chemicals that cause pain and inflammation in the body. 

By reducing the amount of prostaglandins in the body, NSAIDs can help treat plantar fasciitis. They are typically taken orally but can also be applied topically as a cream or gel. 

2. Corticosteroid Injections

If NSAIDs fail to treat this foot condition, corticosteroid injections are the last alternative.

Corticosteroids are a type of medication that works by reducing the activity of the immune system, which can help reduce inflammation. 

When injected directly into the plantar fascia, corticosteroids can help reduce pain and swelling in the affected area. 

However, corticosteroid injections are typically used as a last resort when other treatments have failed to treat plantar fasciitis, as they can have side effects and may not provide long-term relief.

3. Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT)

ESWT involves shock waves to stimulate blood flow and promote new tissue in the plantar fascia. It can help reduce pain and inflammation and promote healing in the affected area. 

ESWT is also typically used when other treatments have failed to provide relief.

4. Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy

This method is also not typically used. PRP therapy utilizes the patient’s blood. They centrifuge the patient’s blood to separate the platelets from the blood. 

Then they inject platelets into the affected area to release growth factors that promote healing and tissue regeneration. Thus, it will treat plantar fasciitis.

5. Ultrasound Therapy

Ultrasound therapy involves the use of high-frequency sound waves to stimulate the production of heat and promote blood flow in the affected area. 

However, doctors advise using this method with other treatments, such as stretching exercises and physical therapy.

6. Surgical Treatments

When conservative measures have failed to provide relief, the condition becomes chronic and severely debilitating, and then surgical treatments help treat plantar fasciitis. Here are some common surgical treatments for plantar fasciitis,

7. Plantar Fascia Release

It is the most common surgical procedure for plantar fasciitis. It can be of two types: partial or total. 

In a partial plantar fascia release, a portion of the plantar fascia is cut or released from the heel bone (calcaneus) to relieve tension and reduce inflammation.

In total plantar fascia release, the entire plantar fascia gets released. The goal is to reduce pressure on the fascia and alleviate pain.

8. Endoscopic Plantar Fasciotomy

During this procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision and inserts an endoscope, a small camera that allows the surgeon to see inside the foot. The surgeon then uses small instruments to release tension in the plantar fascia, which helps in plantar fasciitis treatment.

9. Plantar Fascia Repair with Grafting

During this procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in the foot and removes the damaged portion of the plantar fascia. The surgeon then uses a graft, a piece of tissue taken from another part of the body or a donor, to reinforce the remaining plantar fascia and promote healing in the affected area. 

10. Gastrocnemius Recession

During this procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in the back of the leg and removes a portion of the gastrocnemius muscle, which is one of the two muscles that make up the calf. It can help to reduce tension in the calf muscles and relieve pressure on the plantar fascia, which can manage plantar fasciitis.

11. Tenex Procedure

In this procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision and inserts a small instrument that uses ultrasonic energy to break down and remove damaged tissue in the plantar fascia. Thus it helps in the treatment of plantar fasciitis.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, plantar fasciitis is a common and painful foot condition that can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life.

However, early intervention with a  combination of conservative treatments is key to successful recovery.

Also, you must note that each person’s experience with plantar fasciitis can vary, and what works for one individual may not be as effective for another. Patience and consistency are essential throughout the treatment because healing may take time.

If you suspect you have plantar fasciitis or are experiencing persistent heel pain, seeking professional medical advice is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.