Plantar fasciitis impacts roughly 2 million Americans annually, causing these individuals a tremendous amount of pain, according to figures provided by the American Chiropractic Association.1
What is extra troubling about this particular condition when compared to some other foot issues is that people with plantar fasciitis tend to compensate for the pain by walking in a way that isn’t natural. This can compound the problem and make matters even worse.
Fortunately, foot orthotics can help ease the discomfort and allow the plantar fascia to properly heal without doing any further damage to the rest of the body (including the hips and spine) in the meantime.
What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a swelling or inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is the tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, connecting the toes to the heel. This inflammation can be caused by poor arch support, being overweight, increasing high-foot impact exercises like running, weak muscles in your feet and ankles, tight muscles in your calves, and even arthritis.
No matter what the cause, when plantar fascia is inflamed, it creates tremendous pain around the heel, more so in the morning after not moving it all night or after sitting or standing for long periods of time. It can also be irritated by climbing the stairs or due to engaging in activity that is higher in intensity.
A report published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information noted that plantar fasciitis is especially problematic for men between the ages of 40 and 70, although it can afflict women as well. Symptoms often include tenderness along the plantar fascia (the arch area of your foot), swelling, redness, a tight feeling, and stiffness.2
How foot orthotics can help
Foot orthotics can help by providing extra arch support, relieving the pressure on the plantar fascia, and helping realign the foot so that it can heal properly. And research confirms it.
For instance, one study, published in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, found that semi-custom molded orthotic devices “reduce plantar fascia strain compared to walking without an orthoses.”3 Another report, published by American Family Physician, noted, “Foot orthotics are commonly recommended for persons with plantar fasciitis to aid in preventing overpronation of the foot and to unload tensile forces on the plantar fascia.”4
Other at-home treatment options
Other things you can do to help relieve the pain associated with plantar fasciitis, in addition to getting foot orthotics, include:
- Taking over-the-counter medications to reduce pain and inflammation
- Ice the affected area when possible
- Wear shoes that offer good arch support
- Stay off your foot as much as you can until the pain subsides
The good news is that most of the time plantar fasciitis can be treated without having to go through surgery.
So, if you have plantar fasciitis and want to know what you can do about it, make an appointment with your podiatrist. Relief could be as easy as getting and wearing custom orthotics. No doubt, your feet will thank you.
1 American Chiropractic Association. “Plantar fasciitis.” ACAToday.org. http://www.acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=5290. Accessed January 2015.
2 A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. “Plantar fasciitis.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0004438/. Reviewed March 2014. Accessed January 2015.
3 Benson B, Ferber R. “Changes in multi-segment foot biomechanics with a heat-mouldable semi-custom foot orthotic device.” Journal of Foot and Ankle Research. 2011:4(18).
4 Crawford R, Goff J. “Diagnosis and treatment of plantar fasciitis.” American Family Physician. 2011:84(6);676–682.