What helped your plantar fasciitis?
June 28, 2005 10:23 AM   Subscribe

If you've had plantar fasciitis, what helped you the most?

My doctor prescribed some heavy-duty anti-inflammatories and a series of exercises, along with regular icing. He says if it didn't clear up in a couple of weeks, he'd send me for cortisone shots. In my feet. The thought makes me want to curl up and scream (and my couple of weeks is up). He doesn't think shoe inserts will help very much, but I've heard from other people who say that inserts worked for them. What worked for you?
posted by goatdog to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
I got this from standing on a ladder while painting the house. My doc had been to a symposium where they discussed wrapping/binding the feet tightly (like with ace bandage & tape). He tried it for me and it definitely provided some relief. It took time for it to go away...
posted by Pressed Rat at 10:27 AM on June 28, 2005


New shoes. But mine was a very mild case brought on by wearing some awful Payless shoes for a year straight.
posted by Jeanne at 10:29 AM on June 28, 2005


Oh, I should provide details. I got it from walking around England for a week in bad shoes. I have it in both feet, and in the morning it feels like I can't walk on them. Sometimes it's bearable, but a lot of the time I limp around like my grandpa.
posted by goatdog at 10:32 AM on June 28, 2005


I've got a pretty bad case in my left foot right now, and I find stretching the calf in the morning before you get out of bed or after sitting for an extended period helps tremendously. I usually stretch it out as far as I can, and while holding the stretch I move my foot in a wide circle. It's helped the pain go from infuriating to tolerable in a week or so. Tape helped somewhat, but not as much as the simple stretching.
posted by sun-el at 10:41 AM on June 28, 2005 [1 favorite]


Oh boy, where to start. I have had PF in my left heel for over 7 months. I wear custom orthotics, and got it from (stupidly) walking 2.5 miles two days in a row with a co-worker - without my orthotics (long story, don't ask).
My PT says that it is an "inflammation" injury, so the NSAIDs are a good idea, and the cortisone, though powerful and scary, could provide you with some major relief.
I have done the following, and it is finally starting to clear up:
* Worn a night splint every night (at first, now it's most nights) - quite cumbersome, but it keeps the fascia stretched out, and prevents re-injury
* Done daily stretching and ice massages (both at least twice a day)
* Walked with a cane (always)
* Limited my walking, to the extent that I got a scooter (non-motorized) to push to/from the ferry dock on my way to work
* Gotten massages (these seemed to help more dramatically than anything)
* Had my foot taped (didn't help much at all)
* Always, always, always wear my orthotics (except in the shower)
The key is to really limit your walking, and when you do, use a cane(s), and use your orthotics (even in your slippers!).
Good luck.
posted by dbmcd at 10:46 AM on June 28, 2005


Stretching and massage have helped, but the biggest thing for me was getting shoes with a slightly elevated heel. I wore Chuck Taylors for years. Now it's loafers.
posted by frykitty at 10:48 AM on June 28, 2005


as best as you can, try and avoid the cortisone shot.

I suffered from PF for years! It only cleared up when I stopped running while in grad school. Now I'm running again and so far [knock on wood] no PF

What I did to relieve the pain - I brought a tennis ball and a golf ball to work. I put these under my desk, and rolled either under my foot while I was working. The tennis ball is softer and larger than the golf ball, so the massage is less painful.

With the massage, you are breaking up the painful adhesions that are causing the fasciitis. Do this daily and you will feel a change within a few weeks.

And, take the precautions that are described in the posts above. Just do all you can to avoid the cortisone. It addresses the symptoms, not the cause.
posted by seawallrunner at 10:53 AM on June 28, 2005 [1 favorite]


It sounds like I went the same route your doctor is recommending.

I started with anti-inflammatories and some exercises and I had some relief. It didn't get 100% better so indeed, I got the shot in the foot. It did hurt, but it ultimately helped more than anything. If you get the shots, plan on keeping your foot up that day with some ice. It's a big needle!

It seemed like the shot made the swelling go away and allowed my foot to actually heal. I still have minor troubles every now and then and I use inserts that my doc gave me.

If it becomes bad again, I'd probably get another shot and then keep using inserts.

Good luck!
posted by jdl at 10:54 AM on June 28, 2005


Just echoing what's been said...

New shoes - combination of hiking boots and comfortable sneakers
Stretching - for a couple weeks I made sure to stretch before getting out of bed by pointing my toes towards the end of the bed, holding and repeating.

For me the pain was worst first thing in the a.m. and late p.m. and I never saw a doctor so imagine it was on the mild side.
posted by Yukon at 11:19 AM on June 28, 2005


Cortisone is a miracle drug. It's the only thing that's consistently cleared mine up. I waited for two month before using it the first time mine flared up. Three or four hours after the shot I'd forgotten I'd even had it (plantar fasciitis). I'd go for the shot.
posted by Carbolic at 11:24 AM on June 28, 2005


Do you get a sharp pain in your heel when you first get out of bed in the morning (or afternoon, for that matter)?

I suffered from a similar ailment. My trusty podiatrist recommended a two-step course of action. First, buy a pair of full-length orthotic inserts made by Spenco (about $25--make sure they have a piece of hard, black plastic on the lower third of the insert). Use them to replace the crappy inserts that came with your original pair of shoes.

Next, stretch your foot/heel/calf by going down on the floor into a "sprinter's" stance, with the afflicted leg wayyyyy back. Straighten your back leg until you can feel the pull in yoru calf/heel. Hold that for 30 seconds. Do it 3 times, for 3 times per day, until you're all better.
posted by Kibbutz at 11:27 AM on June 28, 2005


i had a mild but annoying problem. with me I don't remember that terribly expensive orthotics really made a difference. what did eventually make the difference was that I lost some weight ( i guess i became a little too heavy on my feet).
posted by mirileh at 11:31 AM on June 28, 2005


1st) Custom orthotics, NEVER going without them (this includes middle-of-the-night pee trips
2nd) massage.
3rd) gentle but deep stretching of calves.
posted by callmejay at 11:32 AM on June 28, 2005


Wow. I've been suffering from heel pain for the best part of a year now. Worst in the morning or late evening, or after sitting down for a period of time. This thread is proving most enlightening. Thanks.
posted by coach_mcguirk at 11:36 AM on June 28, 2005


Here's a link that has a picture of how to tape your foot.
Link The picture is about 3/4 of the way down the page.
That's what worked for me. You have to do it for 2 weeks, either using a blow dryer to dry the bandages after a shower or re-doing it. Pull the tape pretty tight, the idea is to provide support. Also do those stretches people are recommending, even after the pain goes away. It helps.
If you get skin irritation from the tape there is some stuff you can use called Medicated Sween Prep to make a barrier between you skin and the tape. I think you have to get it a a hospital pharmacy though.
posted by BoscosMom at 11:50 AM on June 28, 2005


I was given an exercise that involved standing on the steps with the balls of my feet on the step and the heel sort of hanging off into air, unsupported. Then I did a progressively larger number of reps where I went up on the ball of my foot then relaxed back until my heel was below the level of the ball of my foot. (does that make any sense at all?)

Did these three times a day, maximum of about 20 reps per set, fixed me right up in about a month.

(I know what you're saying about the hobbling around like Grandpa in the morning, though...)
posted by anastasiav at 12:06 PM on June 28, 2005 [2 favorites]


I've been working my way out of the PF hole. It has been no fun but I have found that using a Pro Stretch seems to help better than doing the regular stretches.

I also found that using the hydrojets in the hot tub followed by icing has been really nice for relief.

And I use gel inserts in all of my shoes but try to wear my well padded running shoes most of the time.

Good luck! And don't walk barefoot. Ever.
posted by fenriq at 12:15 PM on June 28, 2005


time
posted by andrew cooke at 12:59 PM on June 28, 2005


anastasiav, we used that exercise in my athletics days for preventing/treating shin splints. We would do literally hundreds of reps. I remember how odd it was to see a pack of kids bouncing on the stairs as a group.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:06 PM on June 28, 2005 [1 favorite]


I had either PF or Achilles tendonitis, my symptoms were identical to those of PF except for the pain was the immediate rear of the heel, not the bottom front as seems to be the case for PF. Definitely had the "hurts more after sitting for a while" thing.

I avoided boots during the worst of it (they hurt!) and did lots of stretching of my achilles tendon/calf. It is not completely heeled (I kill me!) but the stretching helped it a great deal.

It seems that anti-inflammatory drugs can also help, as decreasing the swelling seems to promote healing (and not just reduce pain). Took me a while to realize that.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 1:23 PM on June 28, 2005


Dr Scholl's heel pads. Worked for me, ymmv.
posted by konolia at 4:47 PM on June 28, 2005


My father had some success with acupuncture... I'm pretty sure he preferred it over the cortisone shot. Worth looking into, from what I could tell, but not a cure - like any PF treatment you're going to be going back in every couple weeks for more.

Just don't make the bad jokes about going to the "Pokemon" (pokey-man) like my dad did...
posted by salad spork at 5:39 PM on June 28, 2005


I'm icing my right heel as I open this thread... regular icing and stretching every morning before I get out of bed seems to be working for me, though I keep thinking it's better and going on long hikes and such only to find out it's not better. There's some discussion that PF is exacerbated by weak muscles in the foot and that walking barefoot on sand, etc. can help build up those muscles and prevent it from reoccuring - haven't found that myself. Also, losing weight is generally recommended. While wearing a raised heel as suggested above definitely *feels* better, it reinforces the shortened Achilles - you might consider Earth shoes or something that holds the heel lower than the rest of the foot to stretch out the Achilles and the plantar fascia...
posted by judith at 5:59 PM on June 28, 2005


I had this once, on vacation nonetheless. You need to support your arch to prevent a recurrence and to lessen additional inflammation. You also want to do the stretching exercises, take the NSAIDS, apply ice and take it easy. Proper arch support was key for me. If you have really bad feet you may need custom orthotics. Wear them all the time, even in the morning and evening when you might otherwise go barefoot. As you heal you will get a feel for how much you can lay off the arch supports and just wear slippers or whatever. On preview - Earth Shoes would be great if you can find them.
posted by caddis at 6:03 PM on June 28, 2005


I will second andrew cooke: the secret ingredient is time. These tissues heal slowly and premature stress is likely to put you right back where you started.
posted by SPrintF at 8:18 PM on June 28, 2005


My PF was aggravated by tennis, did cortisone, Ice, wraps . It finally went away when I suffered a rupture in the area . Podiatrist said they sometimes do that surgically. Ouch, walking boot for several weeks, healed up , and No More PF..
posted by Agamenticus at 10:12 AM on June 29, 2005


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