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Have you been regularly feeling a sharp pain towards the bottom of your heel during the early mornings? Or perhaps after you complete your exercise routines?
Persistent pain in your heels can be a sign of an underlying condition called plantar fasciitis. But don’t get jitters every time you feel pain in your heels though because it may not always be plantar fasciitis.
The name might make you feel like it’s a dangerous condition but it’s not as serious as it sounds. With the right treatment techniques, the condition can be treated from the comfort of your homes as well.
So what is plantar fasciitis, what are its causes, and how can it be treated? These are the questions that we’ll be answering in detail in today’s post so stick with us till the end.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
To describe it as simple as we can, plantar fasciitis is a condition where inflammation occurs in the tissues underlining the sole of your foot.
We don’t want to make things too complicated for you by throwing a bunch of medical terms your way. At the same time, dumbing down the information with overly simplistic terms is also not preferable. So we’ll mix things up with both medical and normal descriptions to give you a better idea of what the condition is.
On the bottom of your feet, there is a long tissue called the plantar fascia that begins from the toe region and runs all along the foot to the heels. Since our feet support our entire body weight, the plantar fascia is often subjected to a lot of pressure.
Various causes and factors can eventually lead to minor ruptures or inflammation in the plantar fascia and such a condition is called plantar fasciitis.
The main symptom of plantar fasciitis is that it causes sharp pain in the sole of your foot. So if you experience stabbing pain at the bottom of your feet, it’s best to get it examined by a doctor to confirm if you are suffering from plantar fasciitis.
We’ll also explain the detailed symptoms of this condition to give you a better idea of whether or not you might be suffering from this condition.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
- Sharp and stabbing pain at the bottom of your feet, especially in the heel area, that is most prominent during the morning when you step out of bed and gradually lessens during the day.
- The intensity of pain increases when you walk or stand up after sitting or resting for a long time.
- Pain that worsens after a long session of exercise, or after you walk or stand for a long time.
- Sometimes redness and swelling will be visible in the affected area.
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, then the pain you feel is likely due to plantar fasciitis and you should it examined as soon as possible.
What Are the Causes of Plantar Fasciitis?
In most cases, plantar fasciitis is caused by some injury or inflammation of the plantar fascia tissue. The inflammation occurs due to excessive stress in the tissue due to factors such as:
- Intensive exercises, stretching, and running or other athletic activities such as sports, which slowly affects the tissue over time.
- Obesity and overweight which puts more pressure on the feet.
- A profession that involves standing for long hours.
- Wearing ill-fitting shoes, or minor deformities in the foot (which may be since birth or acquired later in life).
However, some people may still develop plantar fasciitis even without any of these factors coming into play. In such cases, the cause of plantar fasciitis is still not known.
Non-Surgical Options for Plantar Fasciitis
If you’ve been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, you might get a bit worried which is understandable. How long will it take to treat the condition? Do I have to go for surgery? How badly will it affect my daily lifestyle?
Questions like these will obviously flood your thoughts. The good news is that surgery is only necessary in rare cases and if diagnosed early, you can treat the condition with self-care and some lifestyle changes.
Check out the different non-surgical treatment options for plantar fasciitis below:
Foot rockers are U-shaped equipment that is designed to help you work on the muscles and tissues of your feet through stretching exercises. They are used to treat or reduce the symptoms of different foot-related ailments including plantar fasciitis.
Using a foot rocker is very simple – all you have to do is place your foot on the rocker and apply pressure alternately on the toes and heel. This creates a back and forth rocking movement and stretches the bottom of your foot from both sides.
By exercising with foot rockers regularly, your plantar fascia will slowly increase in length and the stiffness caused by plantar fasciitis can be alleviated. We have picked one of the best rockers available in the market for your convenience.
ProStretch is one of the top manufacturers of medical and athletic equipment. Their calf-stretcher (foot rocker) features a simple but efficient design.
It has a steeply inclined front section where you rest your toe and a somewhat flat back section that holds your heels. Such a design automatically locks your foot in the right position no matter what feet size you have.
The bottom of the rocker is made of anti-slip rubber strips so you don’t have to worry about them sliding or slipping during exercise.
Above all, these foot rockers are compact and lightweight so you can carry them along. You won’t have to miss your regular exercise whether at work or traveling. They’re also made of excellent material with high durability and will remain good as new throughout your treatment.
And they come with a 1-year warranty period as well. Priced affordably, these foot rockers are certainly one of the best products in the market.
Foot Splints and Night Splints
You may be able to control your activities during the day to avoid the worsening of plantar fasciitis. But while you’re asleep, you don’t have much control of your foot positioning. It is a common issue faced by most people suffering from this condition.
So the only way to ensure that your foot remains in the proper position while you are sound asleep is to use a foot splint or a night splint.
It’s a device that locks your foot in a perpendicular position and restricts free movement. Think of it as an indirect stretching mechanism that keeps the plantar fascia tissue stretched throughout the night, thus reducing the stiffness in the morning.
It is very effective in reducing the sharp pain during early mornings which is the most prominent symptom of plantar fasciitis. Once again, we have handpicked two of the best products for your recommendation.
The posterior night splint has an L-shaped design so that the main support runs through your calves and all the way to the bottom of the feet. Once you’ve set your foot in position, three straps hold it in place. The exterior shell is hard and durable while the interior lining is clothed and comfortable to wear.
Due to the open front design, this splint prevents the build-up of heat and friction so you won’t have to worry about sweatiness or rashes due to prolonged use.
The bottom of the splint also has a foam wedge which increases comfort and reduces pressure on the heel if you walk around. That is why this splint is not just useful during the night but you can even wear it during the daytime while you rest and work some minor chores.
The straps can be opened and closed from both sides so you can wear the splint on both your feet without confusion.
The dorsal night splint also serves the same purpose as the posterior splint but has a different design. Instead of running through the back of the legs, the outer shell covers the front of the legs while the lower shell covers your entire foot. There are three straps attached which allows you to adjust the fit and tightness of the splint.
To wear these splints, all you need to do is insert your foot in the bottom hollow section and tighten the straps in place. It will hold your foot perfectly in place and you can even walk around a bit with these splints on. Once again, the internal layer is made of soft and comfortable clothing so you can wear them for long hours. At first glance, they might seem heavy but you’d be surprised to see how lightweight yet durable they are. Cramer dorsal night splints are reasonably priced.
Splints are useful when you are asleep or resting at home, but you can’t wear them while off to work or on outdoor activities. In such cases, you will have to use orthotic inserts – accessories that are placed inside shoes to ensure that the foot remains in an appropriate position while wearing the shoes.
Orthotic inserts designed for plantar fasciitis may vary in shapes and sizes depending on their intended purpose. But even though they vary in design, their main goal is to provide relief to the plantar fascia tissue and avoid stiffness or discomfort when you wear the shoes. Here’s our review for some top product recommendations for orthotic inserts.
Heel Seats orthotic inserts are heel cups that cushion your feet while walking. Their unique design also gradually reset the plantar fascia tissue to its natural and comfortable position. These are not just some fancy commercial products but are designed doctors to provide proven medical benefits. They are available in different sizes for both men and women depending on the foot and shoe size.
Heel seats have three different material specifications. The original inserts are made of firm rubber, the soft inserts are made of SEBS gel, while the hybrid, semi-firm inserts are made of a combination of both gel and rubber.
To know which specification is most appropriate for your condition, it would be best to consult your doctor.
Dr. Scholl’s pain relief orthotics are clinically tested and specially designed for men suffering from plantar fasciitis. Unlike the previous product, these are full-length orthotic inserts that run all the way through the length of your plantar fasciitis shoes.
Think of them as an extra layer of inner sole inside your shoes. These inserts have an effective design and built with a shock absorption pad in the heel region and an extra-support pad at the arched mid-region of your feet.
This combined function of reducing pressure on the heels and supporting the arch of your feet is extremely effective in reducing the pain caused by plantar fasciitis. So it prevents the pain and discomfort from disrupting your daily work or exercise schedule.
These plantar fasciitis orthotics can even be trimmed to fit all types of shoes from formal and casual wear to sneakers and sports shoes.
Foot Massage Ball
Foot massage balls another great type of exercising equipment for plantar fasciitis. They are usually made of rubber and have a spiked design to offer a type of acupunctural effect by applying pressure on selective trigger points.
Your doctor may advise on how long and how often to use the massage balls for the best results. The intended method of using foot massage balls is by placing them on the floor or a wall and pressing them with either the heel or mid-region of your foot.
If you want to avoid the hassle of skimming through hundreds of products online, we’ve picked one of the best foot massage balls for you.
This foot massage ball set consists of three different balls which include 2 spiky rubber balls and one smooth Lacrosse ball. The spiked balls come in two colors – the red one has closely packed sharp spikes and the grey ball has sparsely spread dull spikes.
The sharper spikes apply more pressure to the trigger points on your heel and arch while the dull spikes offer a gentler and more comfortable massage. It gives you the freedom to alternate between both balls to get a balance between pressure and comfort.
And lastly, the smooth ball is perfect as a finishing touch for your massage session to provide a pleasant experience throughout the soles. The package also includes a detailed user manual that perfectly explains the best method to use these balls. Both the spiked balls are heat-resistant so you can warm them in hot water for a hot compression massage.
Alternately, the smooth ball can be placed in your refrigerator and then used for a cold compression massage. Switching between hot and cold massage is a common therapy to treat many muscles and tissue-related ailments and it’s effective for plantar fasciitis as well.
The foot massage ball set comes with a full refund policy if you’re not happy with the product.
Don’t forget, foot massagers are also a great option!
Best Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
Just like ill-fitting shoes can be a probable cause of plantar fasciitis, similarly, properly fitted footwear can help to cure the condition and manage the symptoms effectively.
An ideal pair of shoes or sandals for plantar fasciitis should have two main features – heel cushioning and arch support. Obviously, another factor is that they should have a perfect fit i.e., neither too tight nor too loose.
So with that in mind, we have picked a range of orthopedic shoes for plantar fasciitis for both men and women who are suffering from plantar fasciitis, which are reviewed below:
Plantar Fasciitis Shoes For Women
Footminders women’s sandals have a wavy sole design which makes them ideal for arch support. An extra layer of midsole also facilitates the absorption of pressure while walking. The heel area is raised higher than the front area and also has a depression at the center. So wearing these sandals will automatically rest your heels in a suitable position.
The straps are made of neoprene and are adjustable so you can achieve the desired fit for your comfort. The lower outsole is made of anti-slip rubber for proper stability.
All in all, these work shoes for plantar fasciitis are extremely comfortable to wear and possess all the features necessary for women with plantar fasciitis.
Trotters women’s loafers for plantar fasciitis are made of high-quality leather which is soft but extremely durable. The base of the shoes has foam cushions to enhance comfort and absorb pressure. They also have flexible soles to prevent stiffness and increase mobility.
The heels are raised while the mid-section is curved which is a suitable position for the feet affected by plantar fasciitis. And not just the heels but the entire footbed is lined with a layer of polyurethane cushion so that every step feels soft and comfortable.
All these features make Trotters women’s loafers an ideal choice if you need office or formal shoes to help with you plantar fasciitis.
Now that we’ve covered sandals for plantar fasciitis along with formal wear, our next product recommendation is a pair of sneakers perfect for casual wear and exercises. The Propet women’s sneaker is neat and stylish sports and casual wear with certain features that make it’s a suitable pair of shoes for plantar fasciitis.
The first feature worth mentioning is that these sneakers have inbuilt Ortholite foam double insoles which maximizes comfort and shock absorption. The heel section is raised and thick which is perfect for alleviating pain due to plantar fasciitis. The lower top area and raised hill section are connected by a curved mid-section which works as arch-support for the feet.
These sneakers are lightweight and breathable, while also sturdy and durable. Their appealing design makes them perfect for all outdoor activities such as walking, running, exercising, or simply heading out to get some groceries.
Plantar Fasciitis Shoes For Men
Propet men’s construction shoes intelligently combine multiple features that make them an excellent option for plantar fasciitis, especially for physically demanding works. They come in various sizes including wide and extra wide width so there is enough room for a comfortable fit.
The rubber sole is flexible with adequate cushioning, and they can even be removed and replaced with orthotic insert soles. Its leather built offers high durability with mesh layers in certain areas for breathability.
The base is perfectly curved for arch support and the outsole is made of anti-slip material. Other features include waterproof design and composite toe for additional safety. They come in sizes ranging from 8 to 15.
If you’re looking for a pair of walking shoes for plantar fasciitis, then Brooks men’s walking shoes are an ideal choice. Made of genuine leather, these shoes are extremely sturdy and durable. The rubber sole is soft but thick which offers excellent cushioning for the feet. Instead of laces, they are equipped with hook-and-loop straps that provide an adjustable fit. The soles are thicker at the heel region and thinner at the toe which gives it a suitable curved design for arched support.
As such, these shoes are perfect for alleviating pain while performing light exercises or simply heading out for a walk.
Propet men’s Oxford walking shoes are specially designed for sensitive feet which is why they are perfect for men with plantar fasciitis. The inner volume is wide and spacious which makes them comfortable to wear and also provides enough room for adding orthotic inserts.
The footbed itself is made of cushioned Ortholite insoles, but you can also replace it with orthotic soles of your choice. The sole design is not highly curved for arch support but adding heel inserts will easily take care of this problem.
Made of genuine leather, these best shoes for plantar fasciitis 2020 are extremely durable and are also lightweight even they look bulky and heavy from the outside.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Plantar Fasciitis
We have explained several options such as foot rockers, orthotic inserts, night splints, massage balls, and specially designed shoes for self-treatment of plantar fasciitis. These are all proven methods of treatment and unless your condition is serious and requires surgery, even your doctor will probably recommend one or more of these options.
As with any medical condition, we don’t advise you to opt for these treatment methods without professional medical advice. But based on your doctor’s recommendation, you might need to combine multiple options or even all of the above-mentioned methods.
However, a complete treatment of plantar fasciitis through non-surgical method can take a long time, possibly a few months. So, it’s essential to stick to these methods regularly throughout your treatment and make the necessary lifestyle changes to increase the effectiveness of these methods.
Surgical Relief for Plantar Fasciitis
If you are suffering from an acute case of plantar fasciitis and non-surgical methods fail to treat the condition, your doctor may advise you to proceed with surgical treatment. The surgery is a minor procedure, which lasts for around 30 minutes.
Endoscopic Plantar Fasciotomy (EPF)
To conduct EPF surgery for plantar fasciitis, the patient is first sedated or anesthetized. After that, a small incision is made at the side of the heel and a surgical camera is inserted to get a clear view of the plantar fascia tissue.
The inflamed or affected area is detected and a hook is inserted through the incision to cut off a small portion of the affected tissue. After that, both the hook and the camera are removed and the incision wounds are stitched.
How Long Is the Recovery Period After Plantar Fasciitis Surgery?
For about two weeks after the surgery, patients must refrain from applying any pressure whatsoever on the foot. They can still move around to some extent using a crutch, walker, or wheelchair but maximum rest is advised. During this period, the plantar fascia tissue slowly recovers to its natural length and position.
After the first stage of recovery, patients can gradually apply light pressure on the foot and may walk using special types of walking boots for a few weeks. Finally, as per the patient’s condition and doctor’s analysis, they can resume normal activities, albeit slowly and one step at a time. Overall, it can take 8 to 10 weeks for them to fully recover and resume life with normalcy.
How Painful is Plantar Fasciitis Surgery?
Plantar fasciitis surgery is considered to be a low or mildly traumatic procedure, meaning it is painful to some extent but bearable and manageable. The surgical pain will usually subside within the first two weeks, but patients will still feel pain if they apply pressure to the foot too early.
Can Plantar Fasciitis Relapse After Surgery?
Plantar fasciitis can develop in any healthy individual owing to different causes and factors. As such, even after undergoing surgery, you can develop plantar fasciitis again in the future.
The best course of action is to take preventive measures and follow all necessary lifestyle changes as per your doctor’s advice to keep the plantar fascia tissues in a healthy condition.