The pulling, straining pain of plantar fasciitis is difficult to ignore. This discomfort in your heel and arch can make it hard to walk, let alone participate in activities like running, hiking and biking. If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, it's important to seek treatment from a physical therapist or orthopedic specialist. Here's a look at the treatment measures they may recommend.
If this is the first time you've suffered from plantar fasciitis, your doctor will likely recommend trying conservative treatments first. This will involve taking some time off from any athletic endeavors and spending as little time on your feet as possible. You may be shown some exercises or stretches to keep the pain at bay and strengthen the muscles in your foot, which should also help prevent the injury from recurring in the future. Icing the injury several times per day will reduce swelling. You may also be given orthotics to place in your shoes; these will reduce strain on your plantar fascia as you walk and stand.
If your pain does not decrease substantially with conservative treatments, the next-level treatment your doctor may recommend is a steroid injection. This injection will be administered directly into your plantar fascia -- usually towards the inside of your foot. The steroids will help reduce inflammation and stimulate healing of your plantar fascia. Steroid injections won't cure the problem immediately, but they can give your body a jump-start and help get the healing process started. You'll still need to rest and avoid strenuous exercise for at least a few weeks to allow your foot to heal.
Cases of plantar fasciitis that don't respond to injections may be dealt with surgically. The process used is called the "plantar fascia release." It involves making an incision in the plantar fascia ligament itself in hopes that this incision will alleviate the strain and tension in the ligament.
Sometimes, plantar fascia release is performed as an open surgery in which a full incision is made in the foot to expose the plantar fascia. However, more and more surgeons are now choosing to perform the procedure endoscopically instead. In endoscopic surgery, only a small exterior incision is made. Instruments are inserted through this small incision to perform the procedure on your plantar fascia. Endoscopic surgery is associated with a shorter recovery time than open surgery -- most people return to weight-bearing activity immediately as opposed to having to wear a boot for 2 - 3 weeks following open surgery.
The majority of plantar fasciitis cases resolve with conservative therapy and perhaps a steroid injection, so chances are, you won't end up needing surgery. But it's good to know that if you do need it, there's an effective surgical procedure out there to ease your pain.