A diagnosis of plantar fasciitis doesn’t have to go hand in hand with a pair of boring, expensive heavy orthotic shoes. With light, reusable orthotics inserts, almost any pair of shoes can be transformed into a plantar-fasciitis-fighting machine!
But what about when summertime rolls around, and those toes need some sunlight?
We think your pedicure deserves to be seen too.
Which is why we’re exploring your options for sandals that are compatible with healing from plantar fasciitis.
Can I Really Wear Sandals If I Have Heel Pain?
The short answer? Absolutely yes!
The longer answer? You need to find the right sandal. Cost, effectiveness at healing plantar fasciitis, and style are top considerations when it comes to summertime, sandals, and plantar fasciitis.
The Best Sandals for Plantar Fasciitis
Specialty Supportive Sandals
Specialty sandals provide more support and cushioning than the average sandal, but aren’t specifically made to treat plantar fasciitis.
Cost: The cost for specialty supportive sandals is higher than your average, running between $40 and $100 for a good pair (of course, the sky’s the limit when it comes to shoes!)
Effectiveness: For max effectiveness, look for sandals that have a thick, cushioned sole, at least some arch support (read: not pancake flat!) and straps that keep your foot from sliding around while you walk. While these sandals won’t do much to heal your plantar fasciitis, they are much less likely to exacerbate or cause the condition.
Style: Birkenstocks are the classic supportive sandals–wide straps, thick soles, and support for your heels. However, many manufacturers and brands make more supportive sandals now, so style options are growing!
Orthopedic sandals are made especially to support plantar fasciitis:
Cost: The cost for orthotic sandals is pretty steep and will set you back between $50 and $150 per pair.
Effectiveness: On the lower end, sandals branded as “orthopedic” are simply a cushioned, supportive sandal. Higher end orthopedic sandals help with heel and foot alignment to reduce the pressure on the plantar fascia while adding cushioning and support for painful feet.
Style: While there are more styles available than ever, the world of orthopedic sandals is still quite limited. It may be difficult to find a pair of orthopedic sandals that fit your unique style.
Regular Sandals With Heel Seat Wraps
Heel Seat Wraps are neoprene, lightweight wraps that are specifically made for healing plantar fasciitis. They can be worn with virtually any type of footwear–including sandals!
Cost: A pair of heel wraps are $34.95 and can be easily washed and reused. Best of all they can be worn with your favorite pair of sandals.
Effectiveness: Heel Wraps turn almost any pair of sandals into orthopedic footwear that’s both lightweight and inexpensive. Fascia-Bar Technology supports your feet and allows you to free your toes while supporting your heels.
Style: Style options are essentially limitless with Heel Wraps. Wear them with your favorite pair of sandals, or even wear them barefoot (the non-slip neoprene means that you can wear these handy wraps even on slick hardwood.)
Are your feet feeling happy yet? Make this the best summer yet by giving your toes a chance to enjoy those summer nights as much as you do this year–and in style to boot (no boot needed!)
As with any major medical procedure, the decision to undergo surgery should be made after very careful consideration, and in collaboration with your doctor. At the end of the day, the very best advocate for your health is you! Thorough research, as well as a hard look at the pros and cons of using surgery to treat heel spurs and plantar fasciitis is the best way to ensure that you are making an informed decision–and the best decision for your health.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons involved in surgery for plantar fasciitis.
Pros of Heel Pain Surgery
There are two major pros when it comes to plantar fasciitis surgery: options and success rate. If more conservative treatment methods have been exhausted, don’t despair! In the 5% of plantar fasciitis cases that don’t respond to other types of treatment, surgery offers new options and a high success rate.
Options for Severe Cases of Plantar Fasciitis
It’s a hopeless feeling to be out of options. And if treating plantar fasciitis using conservative treatment methods hasn’t eliminated or drastically reduced your pain level, it can be both frustrating and demoralizing. Thankfully, surgery provides options for these severe cases to successfully treat heel pain from plantar fasciitis.
Most experts agree that conservative methods of treatment should be consistently employed over the course of nine to twelve months–particularly the use of orthotics and exercises designed to treat plantar fasciitis. Before undergoing surgery, make sure to research your options thoroughly and understand all of the cons (see below!) associated with surgery.
High Success Rate
Plantar fasciitis surgery has lasting results and high success rates for most people who undergo the procedure. One study, conducted in 1993 by the Podiatry Hospital of Pittsburgh, found that 39 out of 40 patients who underwent surgery for plantar fasciitis, would recommend the same decision to others, even five years later.
Some methods are considered more effective than others within the medical and podiatric community, so be sure to discuss your options with your doctor, and recognize that there is not a “one size fits all” solution when it comes to surgery. Endoscopic surgery, in which a small camera is inserted through slits in the heel so that the surgeon can see and remove the injured portion of the plantar fascia, is often the first choice for doctors. However, it’s not the only choice. Ask questions about how much of the plantar fascia will be removed, whether any heel spurs will be removed, and why. The answers to these questions will help you understand why a particular procedure has been recommended for your unique case.
Cons of Heel Pain Surgery
As with any major medical procedure, surgery for plantar fasciitis and heel pain shouldn’t be taken lightly because of a few significant risks and potential complications. By educating yourself to prepare for potential risks and consulting with your doctor, you can make the very best choice for your unique situation.
The cost of plantar fasciitis surgery varies by your location, the type of insurance you have, and the specifics of your unique situation and medical case. But in general, costs are steep, and can easily reach upwards of $10,000.
Recovery time can be a serious con, since it may be six to 10 weeks before you are able to comfortably walk around without assistance, and three months before you’re able to resume more rigorous activity and exercise.
Depending on the type of surgery you elect, it may also be necessary to wear a cast or brace for several weeks to allow the tissue to heal. Depending on your job, family demands, and other considerations, this can be a serious consideration.
Risks and Complications of Heel Pain Surgery
While a full recovery is always the hope when it comes to surgery, and success rates are high, the potential risks and complications of plantar fasciitis surgery are real. Possible complications and risks include post surgery infections, if the wound is not properly cleaned and cared for. There is also the risk of arch reduction, meaning that it’s less able to bear impact and weight without injury even after healing from surgery.
Some patients report feeling numbness as a result of nerve damage during surgery, and a small percentage of patients find that surgery does not reduce or eliminate their heel pain. still recovery following plantar fascia surgery. It’s very important to discuss these risks with your orthopedic surgeon to decide if the procedure is right for you.
Given the risks, cost, and potential complications of plantar fasciitis surgery, most doctors recommend trying more conservative methods consistently for one year prior to electing surgery. Before you decide to undergo surgery, use the following natural treatment methods consistently:
- Religiously rest your feet twice a day for twenty minutes.While resting your feet, apply an ice pack to reduce inflammation. This can be extremely difficult for busy people, but rest is absolutely critical to healing!
- Commit to daily plantar fascia and heel stretching exercises. It might be hard to believe, but simple stretches designed specifically for plantar fasciitis can really reduce morning heel pain and daily heel pain and to promote eventual recovery.
- Commit to wearing specialized orthotic shoe inserts, every day, in all of your shoes. In more than than 9 out of 10 cases, Fascia-Bar technology has been shown to heal plantar fasciitis by realigning the injured plantar fascia ligament, and cushioning the heel.
In the rare cases that do not respond to the above natural treatments, your doctor may also recommend medications and cortisone injections as short-term aides.
No one wants to undergo surgery, but by exhausting natural options for healing, educating yourself about pros and cons, and consulting with your doctor to find the right method of treatment for your unique case, you’ll be ready to take advantage of the best option for you!
Let’s talk virtual reality.
Because the truth is, the virtual world of apps and technology can have a real, positive impact on your plantar fasciitis when it comes to pain management, staying on top of your diet and health, and even tracking your mood and mental health.
You have enough on your plate when it comes to dealing with plantar fasciitis–so we’ve done the work for you when it comes to finding the best apps for plantar fasciitis in 2017. We’ve identified the top apps that help you manage pain, stay active, and live a fuller life. These apps are easy to use, free, and best of all provide real value when it comes to managing a painful condition.
Wunderlist (Reminders App)
Wunderlist is an amazingly helpful reminders app that helps remove the stress of trying to remember everything that needs to be done in your busy day! Set recurring reminds, arrange reminders into categories, and even collaborate with a friend or family member on a particular list–so you both see the reminders and know when an item has been checked off.
How This App Helps with Plantar Fasciitis:
The road to healing is filled with small, consistent steps–like regular stretching, icing, taping, and adding healthy choices like low-impact physical activity and a sensible diet. Setting reminders to help you remember to stretch three times a day, ice your feet and heels when needed, order new orthotic inserts, or take your anti-inflammatory medication can make a big difference in promoting healing.
Moodlytics (Mood Tracking App)
Moodlytics allows you to identify patterns in your mood and mental health. This app sends regular reminders to ask you to rate your mood using expressive emoticons, then allows you to add notes about what’s happening in your life as you rate your mood. By understanding these patterns, it’s then possible to make changes to improve your quality of life, or pinpoint particularly difficult times of the day or week, so you can anticipate and prepare for them.
How This App Helps with Plantar Fasciitis:
Healing from plantar fasciitis is a journey. And the more insight you have into what’s helping, what isn’t helping, what brings you the most joy, and what moments are the most difficult, can allow you to do more of what’s working, less of what isn’t working, and anticipate when you’ll feel down.
My Fitness Pal (Fitness and Diet Tracking App)
My Fitness Pal helps you take charge of diet, exercise, and the goals you have for each. Using the app, you can easily track calories, your activity level, and keep track of your progress. If you use a Fitbit, your steps and activity will import right into My Fitness Pal!
How This App Helps with Plantar Fasciitis:
Maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle can have a significant impact on your plantar fasciitis by reducing the strain on your arches. Incorporating regular physical activity can also get those endorphins going, improving your mental health during what can be a very difficult time.
Catch My Pain (Chronic Pain App)
Have you ever been to the doctor and struggled to describe your symptoms in a way that accurately communicated what you have been feeling over the course of time? By using a pain diary like Catch My Pain, it’s possible to more accurately describe, capture, and record the pain and symptoms you feel over the course of time to more effectively find treatments that work with your doctor.
How This App Helps with Plantar Fasciitis:
By keeping a log of where and how you feel your symptoms, you can more accurately diagnose your plantar fasciitis, determine whether you actually have a different condition masquerading as plantar fasciitis, and determine whether a particular treatment is working or not. Keeping track of where, how, and how intensely you feel your symptoms will help your doctor determine treatment for your unique circumstances.
Podiatry Patient Education Portal (Education App)
The Podiatry Patient Education Portal helps simplify some of the confusing terminology surrounding ailments of the feet. The doctor’s office can be a fire hydrant of information, and this resource allows you to explore information and get a second opinion in the form of credible resources–all at your own pace.
How This App Helps with Plantar Fasciitis:
The terminology and information about different treatment options your doctor shares with you can be a little overwhelming at times. Having a resource to browse at your own pace that shows you a description, credible resources about causes and treatment options, as well as plain english medical terminology, can help you feel more prepared and informed.
Both plantar fasciitis and technology can be overwhelming in their own rite. But these free, simple apps help take some of the stress and confusion out of this condition–and get you back on track to healing as quickly as possible!
Imagine, for a moment, walking with one foot inside an inflexible boot.
That classic, step-slap sound resulting from the inflexible boot hitting the ground with each step, is also the hallmark of foot drop, a gait abnormality that is the result of muscle weakness, nerve damage, or partial muscle paralysis to either one or both feet.
Individuals with foot drop are no longer able to properly flex one or both foot, resulting in a “slap” to the ground with each step, rather than a smooth, rolling step from heel to toe.
Foot drop can also cause what’s known as “steppage gait,” in which the affected foot is lifted much higher than normal while walking. Due to the foot’s inability to flex and lift like normal, the toes often drag while the affected leg swings forward. To compensate, this leg must be lifted higher than normal to avoid tripping over the dragging toes.
What are the causes of foot drop, how is it diagnosed, is it permanent, how can it be treated, and should surgery be considered?
Causes of Foot Drop
The causes of foot drop vary significantly, and the prognosis for recovery depends a great deal on the cause itself. Foot drop can result from weakness in the muscles of the legs and thighs, to much more serious conditions like multiple sclerosis. Foot drop can be caused by any of the following:
- Herniated disks in the back that compress and damage nerves leading down to the feet
- Injuries to the pelvis and the hips
- Dislocation of the knees (it’s important to check for nerve damage and artery damage if you ever dislocate your knee!)
- Inadequate blood supply (also known as ischemia). This can take place during a stroke
- Injuries to the sciatic nerve
- Partial paralysis of muscles in the legs
- Muscle weakness or damage
- More serious degenerative conditions like multiple sclerosis, ALS, and cerebral palsy
- Spinal cord injuries
- Exposure to toxins that have damaged the nerves
Diagnosing Foot Drop
Foot drop can often be diagnosed simply by hearing the cadence of your gait on a hard surface. The “slap gait” is distinctive, as one foot or both hit the ground with a slap. In a typical gait, the heel strikes the ground first, followed by the rest of the foot in a controlled and smooth motion. In cases of drop foot, the ability to control the foot’s smooth descent to the ground is absent–the reason for the characteristic slap. Evidence of “steppage gait,” where the affected foot is raised higher than normal to avoid dragging or tripping on the toes, is also a hallmark.
Foot drop can also be diagnosed through examination of dorsiflexion, or the amount of control over your ability to lift and flex downward and upward. The inability to flex the foot with a proper range of motion means that the foot cannot facilitate a normal gait.
Is Foot Drop Permanent?
Foot drop can either be temporary or permanent, depending on how much damage has been sustained, how long it has been happening, and the cause of the muscle or nerve damage to begin with. If you notice foot drop, it’s critical to address the problem and determine the cause as soon as possible.
Treatments for Foot Drop
The main factor in deciding how to treat foot drop is the cause. Some treatments, depending on the cause of foot drop, may include physical therapy, treating a herniated disc, anti-inflammatory drugs to deal with swelling and inflammation at the source of the damaged muscles or nerve, as well as a specialized exercise program to strengthen and repair damage.
Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) may be recommended by your doctor, depending on the cause and extent of the damage to nerves. This treatment stimulates and helps restore function to damaged nerves is minimally invasive.
While you and your doctor are treating the cause of foot drop with a medical professional, foot orthoses, or orthotics, can be very helpful in stabilizing the foot and ankle, which help keep the foot from dropping or dragging during walking and activity. Orthotic shoes can add additional weight to the foot, exacerbating the symptoms of foot drop, so lightweight slip-in orthotics should be used.
Should I Consider Surgery for Foot Drop?
Surgery should typically be a last resort, and foot drop is no exception. Surgery to remedy foot drop yield mixed results, and all are accompanied by long recoveries and invasive, painful procedures. However, some people have seen improvement after surgery for foot drop after exhausting other options for treatment.
The best way to approach foot drop is to treat the symptoms (by using slip-in orthotics and any other treatments your doctor recommends), and working with your doctor to uncover and treat the root cause. Knowledge is power, and learning as much as you can about this condition while finding the treatment that works best for you is key!
Acupressure versus acupuncture–what’s the difference, how does each one work, and which one is more effective for plantar fasciitis?
These two words sound alike for a reason. Both are rooted in the prefix “Acu,” which means targeted. And both pinpoint heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis. Acupressure–as you have probably guessed–combats heel pain through targeted pressure to different areas of the heel, while acupuncture treats heel pain through special needles that barely puncture the skin.
Here’s what you need to know about acupuncture and acupressure for heel pain:
How Does Acupuncture Help Heel Pain?
In acupuncture, very tiny needles are quickly inserted shallowly. It’s unclear exactly how this works to reduce pain, but researchers believe that the needle insertion stimulates blood flow and hormones to the affected area, drastically reducing pain. Several studies have shown acupuncture to be an effective method of temporarily reducing the symptoms of heel pain and plantar fasciitis. In one study, acupuncture showed to be 97% effective at temporarily reducing pain from plantar fasciitis, as compared to 76% of a control group that was administered medication.
How Does Acupressure Help Heel Pain?
Acupressure works through applying pressure to “hot spots” of the heel and arch that have been negatively affected by plantar fasciitis. This accomplishes two things: first, the pressure to these targeted areas numbs the body’s pain response. Second, constant, targeted pressure through special orthotic inserts that incorporate Fascia-Bar technology lifts the arch so that heel spurs no longer dig into the fatty pad of the heel (a primary cause of pain from plantar fasciitis.)
Benefits and Drawbacks of Acupuncture for Plantar Fasciitis
Most of the potential drawbacks to acupuncture for heel pain involve overcoming the perception that acupuncture is painful. While this treatment method does involve needles, it really doesn’t hurt! The other potential downside of acupuncture is that it only treats symptoms–not the cause–of plantar fasciitis. To eliminate symptoms for good, it’s necessary to treat the damage to the plantar fascia.
- Effectiveness: A compelling number of studies indicate that acupuncture is very effective at treating the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. However, acupuncture does not treat the root cause of plantar fasciitis.
- Cost: The cost of acupuncture varies by location and facility, but as a general rule, an intake visit will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $75, while an ongoing series of visits will be closer to $50.
- Pain Level: Surprisingly, acupuncture isn’t painful. If you do experience pain or discomfort, let the physician know immediately!
Benefits and Drawbacks of Acupressure for Plantar Fasciitis
The biggest drawback to acupressure is finding an orthotic that fits the bill. Most orthotics provide cushioning–important for painful heels–but that’s the end of the story. For effective acupressure, it’s critical to use an orthotic that uses Fascia-Bar technology, which was developed specifically to treat plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. Unlike many treatments for plantar fasciitis (including acupuncture), acupressure focuses on treating the root cause of plantar fasciitis by lifting the plantar fascia to a proper height. This both eliminates the pain from heel spurs, and applies pain-relieving pressure to targeted areas.
- Effectiveness: A double blind clinical study conducted by the University of Iowa concluded that Fascia-Bar technology is twice times as effective at treating heel pain than comparable leading brand orthotics. Patients who use orthotics with Fascia-Bar technology report a remarkable satisfaction rate of more than 90%.
- Cost: Orthotics with Fascia-Bar technology can be purchased for less than $20, and can be washed and reworn.
- Pain Level: While it’s recommended that you ease into wearing orthotics by gradually increasing the amount of time you spend wearing them each day, you shouldn’t experience any pain.
So, Is Acupressure or Acupuncture Better for Heel Pain?
Both acupressure and acupuncture have compelling benefits, and the good news is that you don’t have to choose! These treatments can be used in tandem to provide pain relief from symptoms, depending on your budget and preferences.
While it’s important to treat the root cause of plantar fasciitis to avoid an endless loop of treating symptoms without addressing the underlying issue, any reasonably priced, safe, non-invasive treatment that effectively alleviates pain is a good option!