Plantar Fasciitis is a painful foot ailment that affects millions of Americans each year. It is characterized by pain in the heel upon taking the first steps each morning. The pain gradually lessens as the sufferer walks about. Plantar Fasciitis is generally understood to be inflammation in the plantar fascia, the thick fibrous band of connective tissue that runs from the heel bone towards the toes. Emerging research suggests this painful condition may actually be caused by an inflamed flexor digitorum breves muscle belly. Left untreated plantar fasciitis may become a more degenerative condition known as plantar fasciocis. Plantar fasciitis can be treated using stretching, massage, physical therapy, night splints, motion control running shoes, cold therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs or rest. One of the most effective treatments for plantar fasciitis is orthotics.
Orthotics is the only non-surgical treatment that has been proven to be effective in helping to control the pain associated with plantar fasciitis. A variety of orthotics have been used to treat the ailment and all have shown a good measure of success. Some people have their orthotics custom designed and made specifically for their feet. These can be very expensive. Other sufferers buy off the shelf orthotics to treat their pain. Research has shown the success rate is about the same for either type.
Orthotics can provide support, increase shock absorption and play a role in adjusting foot position thereby taking stress off of the affected area. Patients have had success with a number of different types of orthotics. Some sufferers choose heel cushions made of polyvinyl chloride, silicone, leather, thermoplastics or polyethylene foams. The heel cushions help absorb shock and reduce or eliminate pain. Soft or hard heel cups are another popular choice. The soft cups cushion and help contain the fat pad in the heel. The hard cups help reposition the heel pad and can aid in restoring natural cushioning and compressibility. Heel cradles have also helped many patients find relief as have heel lifts. Some doctors recommend patients not use heel lift higher than a quarter of an inch.
Note, for a MUCH MORE comprehensive article about choosing specific orthotic products on the market that best suite your plantar fasciitis condition, we suggest you read our What are the Best Orthotics for Plantar Fasciitis article.
Plantar Fasciitis can be very painful. Ask your doctor or your pharmacist to suggest orthotics you can use. Try several of them until you find the one that works best for you.