Plantar Fasciitis: 5 Self-Treatment Mistakes You May Be Making
We’ll start with the good news.
Plantar fasciitis, the most common form of heel pain among U.S. adults, can almost always be treated conservatively. Many times, you may even be able to eliminate the condition purely with home-based treatments.
Now the bad news:
Despite how common this condition is, and despite the fact it can often be treated at home, that doesn’t necessarily mean the right treatment course is obvious from the get-go. Each case is a little different.
Unfortunately, this means you may unintentionally be making some mistakes in your attempts at self-treatment. At best, these mistakes might be simply ineffective. At worse, they may be impairing the healing process.
Are you making any of these mistakes?
First things first: are you sure you even have plantar fasciitis?
It may be the most common heel pain condition for adults, but it isn’t the only one. Other conditions such as stress fractures, pinched nerves, or tendinitis (to name a few) can also cause heel pain.
If you’ve misdiagnosed the original injury, your attempts at rehab aren’t likely to be all that successful. You’ll be treating the wrong injury!
Misuse (or Overuse) of Ice
Icing can be an effective strategy for controlling pain and swelling. However, it’s important to use ice correctly and sparingly for optimal results.
First, don’t apply ice directly to your skin, as it can damage it (or even cause frostbite). If you don’t have a dedicated ice pack or “ice slipper,” wrap your bag of ice (or frozen veggies) in a hand towel first so you get a little protection for your skin.
You should also avoid icing too much or for too long. Only apply for about 10-15 minutes at a time, no more than 4-5 times per day (with at least an hour break between sessions). While ice can help with pain and swelling, too much ice can impair healing by reducing circulation.
Using Painkillers to “Cheat” on Rest
If used as directed (and you have no contraindications), over-the-counter NSAIDs can be extremely helpful in managing painful symptoms whenever they spike.
However, it’s important to remember that NSAIDs don’t actually heal anything or make you better; they just temporarily minimize aches and pains. If you are taking them so you can go out on your daily jog or other rigorous physical activity in (relative) peace, you’re likely making things worse for yourself in the long run.
Plantar fasciitis needs time to heal, and painkillers should never be used as an excuse to continue doing the things that caused your injury in the first place!
The Right Treatment at the Wrong Time
This is something that a lot of people struggle with—especially more “savvy” patients who tend to do a lot of online research about their condition (or maybe even have a bit of a medical background themselves.)
Don’t get us wrong: “Dr. Google” can be an incredibly valuable resource. You maybe even used an online search to find this blog! But the danger is that, even if the information is good, you may be taking steps out of sequence or trying a treatment that may work in many instances … just maybe not yours.
To take the most basic example:
Most home treatment programs for plantar fasciitis can be roughly divided into a “recovery” phase (where you’ll be doing a lot of resting, with maybe certain stretches) and a “rehabilitation” phase (where you’ll be doing more aggressive stretches for feet and calves to rebuild strength and range of motion.)
Well, if you start on those aggressive rehab exercises too early—before the tissue is fully healed and ready for stress again—you might just end up re-injuring the tissue and experiencing a frustrating setback.
Inconsistent Treatment and Rehab
If you want fast, optimal results, commitment and consistency are crucial. Some examples:
If we tell you that you need to stop running for a few weeks and let your heels rest, that doesn’t mean you can go for a 2-mile run instead of your normal 5-mile run and call it good. You need to rest.
If we give you rehab exercises to do and tell you to do them daily for 15 minutes (just to use an example), you really need to do them daily for 15 minutes. Once or twice per week for only a couple minutes at a time isn’t going to cut it.
Likewise, if we issue you a pair of arch supports or custom orthotics, you need to wear them every day—not just once in a while when your feet are hurting.
Follow your doctor’s orders and be consistent.
Want to Stop Making Mistakes? Come See Us
Of course, the best way to make sure you get (and stay) on the right treatment path is making an appointment with the Community Foot Clinic of McPherson.
In short order, we’ll be able to:
- Diagnose a medical condition (whether it’s plantar fasciitis or otherwise)
- Identify the root causes of that condition (bad shoes, foot structure, overuse, etc.)
- Prescribe a customized treatment plan that takes both the condition and causes into account to give you the best possible results.
It’s possible that we’ll recommend some more advanced professional treatment options, like custom orthotics or laser therapy. It’s also possible that you’ll be able to handle this problem on your own at home.
Either way, you’re going to get a detailed roadmap and the information you need to get better, as quickly as possible, with the lowest risk of potential setbacks.
So don’t keep suffering with plantar fasciitis even a day longer than you have to. Give us a call today at (620) 241-3313.