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Stretching Plantar Fascitis

Plantar Fascitis is Treatable Without Surgery

Suffering from plantar fascitis? Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the thick tissue, or fascia, that runs along the bottom of the foot. It is very common among distance runners with chronically tight musculature and connective tissue of the legs and feet, people without proper arch support, or people with a muscular imbalance in the hips or pelvis.

Luckily, there are various, effective treatments for plantar fasciitis. Using the techniques below - used alone or in combination - most people recover completely from their plantar fascitis within a year. Out of 100 people with plantar fasciitis, only about 5 will ultimately need surgery.

Taking it Easy

Homecare treatment typically involves four ingredients: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (abbreviated as RICE).

Rest

Rest and protect the injury. This includes staying off your feet. If you can't stay off your feet, at least try reducing or changing your exercise activities.

Ice

Applying cold to an injury can reduce the pain and swelling. Try applying ice for 15 to 20 minutes, three or four times a day to reduce swelling. Make sure to wrap the ice or ice pack with a towel first, so that it does not damage the skin.

Compression

Compressing the injury will help to decrease swelling. Don't wrap it too tightly, however, because this can cause issues in the surrounding tissue. If you feel increased pain, numbness, tingling, or additional swelling in the surrounding area remove the wrap immediately. Additionally, do not fall asleep with a wrap on, as you will be unable to monitor your circulation.

Elevation

Keep your foot at or above the level of your heart in order to reduce swelling. This will be much easier to do lying down versus sitting.

Medications

You can start medicating your injury by taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) and naproxen (Aleve), to reduce inflammation in the ligament. If the injury does not respond to over-the-counter medication you can escalate and receive an injection of a corticosteroid directly into the damaged section of the ligament by your physician in his or her office to help alleviate the pain.

Stretching and Exercise

Seeing a physical therapist who can show you how to stretch your plantar fascia and Achilles tendons and also show you exercises to strengthen your lower leg muscles, helping to stabilize your walk and lessen the workload on your plantar fascia.

Night Splints

Night splints, which can help stretch your calf and the arch of your foot and also help to hold your foot in a flexed position that lengthens the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon and can prevent morning pain and stiffness.

Orthotics

Special orthotics for your shoes, which may help alleviate some of the pain by re-distributing pressure, and help prevent further damage to the plantar fascia.

Surgery

Surgical treatment, which is typically considered only after 12 months of aggressive nonsurgical treatment.

Stretching can help heal plantar fascitis

Sources

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and American Academy of Pediatrics (2010). Plantar fasciitis. In JF Sarwark, ed., Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care, 4th ed., pp. 839-844. Rosemont, IL: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Thomas JL, et al. (2010). The diagnosis and treatment of heel pain: A clinical practice guideline-revision 2010. Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery, 49(3, Suppl): S1-S19.

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