With any injury, it’s critical to promote healing while avoiding re-injury or relapse. That’s why knowing what not to do when you have Plantar Fasciitis is just as important as knowing your best treatment options.
If you have Plantar Fasciitis (or you think you might have Plantar Fasciitis) don’t make these six common mistakes. They could cost you a longer recovery time, expense, pain, and additional complications!
1. Jumping Straight to Expensive Treatments
If your doctor recommends surgery the first time you make an appointment to talk about heel pain, proceed with caution (more on that coming up). An incredible 90% of Plantar Fasciitis cases can be successfully resolved without surgeries, many using inexpensive, conservative treatments in the comfort of your own home.
While heel pain can feel so bad, and so serious that surgery seems like the only reasonable option to fix it, take comfort in knowing that most people are able to heal without the trauma and expense of surgery or medical interventions. Tried-and-true conservative treatments like icing, stretching, sock splints, and wearing orthotics made just for Plantar Fasciitis are the very best frontline defense.
2. Not Seeking a Second Opinion
If you don’t feel heard or comfortable with your podiatrist or doctor, get a second opinion. While there are some generally agreed-upon principles of treating plantar fasciitis, each person and each situation is unique.
If your own research or situation don’t seem to be jiving with your current doctor, it’s okay to respectfully find other care. Ask for reviews in local Plantar Fasciitis support groups, or do some more research online to find a doctor who’s a good fit. You are the best advocate for your own health, and you should always feel comfortable asking questions and questioning proposed treatment plans.
3. Waiting to Treat Your Plantar Fasciitis
Like other injuries, it’s important to take corrective action quickly if you suspect that the arch of your foot may be damaged. Continuing to walk, run, or jump with a damaged fascia can make micro-injuries worse, allow the arch to flatten further, and increase the time required for healing.
Treating heel pain right away using conservative treatment methods like orthotics, icing, and stretching is one of the best ways to avoid costly and more invasive medical interventions down the line. When in doubt, talk to your doctor, rest from any physical activities that are causing pain, and begin conservative treatments.
4. Spending Lots of Time (and Money) on Miracle Cures
In the age of the Internet, all it takes is a few clicks to find treatments “guaranteed” to cure Plantar Fasciitis–for a price, of course. However, research often reveals that these miracle cures are heavy on marketing and a little more ambiguous on results.
If a new treatment is inexpensive and doesn’t have harmful side effects, it probably won’t hurt to try. However, be skeptical of expensive and very new “miracle” treatments for heel pain that are getting a lot of buzz online. Remember, most cases of Plantar Fasciitis can be successfully treated using very inexpensive at-home remedies. Before trying other treatments, do your research to find real user reviews, any research that backs the new treatment, and the track record of the company that is promoting the new treatment.
5. Using Ice or NSAIDS the Wrong Way
While icing and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can be extremely helpful in temporarily relieving pain, it’s possible to use them the wrong way.
Apply ice indirectly to the skin, to avoid frostbite (using a plastic bag wrapped in a paper towel, or handy ice slippers to avoid the mess). And keep the ice applied for between 10 and 20 minutes, to maximize the benefits of numbness and reduced inflammation. However, keeping the ice on your skin longer than 20 minutes can actually cause tissue damage and problems with circulation.
When it comes to NSAIDs, don’t make the mistake of using them to temporarily relieve your pain–so you can engage in activities that might make your Plantar Fasciitis worse, like jogging or a rowdy game of basketball. Pain is your signal that something is wrong. Respect the pain, and treat it as needed with NSAIDS–but not as a way to push through!
6. Inconsistent Conservative Treatments
Tried-and-true home remedies for Plantar Fasciitis are only as good as the consistency with which they are applied. Stretching once a week for a couple of minutes won’t build the strength and flexibility your arch, calves, ankles, and legs need to absorb and distribute impact properly. And wearing orthotic insoles once in a while–or keeping your favorite pair of high heels in constant rotation–may result in chronic Plantar Fasciitis.
Wear orthotics or wrap your heels whenever possible, and stretch once or twice each day for 10-20 minutes. As needed, use ice and NSAIDs for pain, and give your feet plenty of rest.
It’s important to understand that you probably won’t see results immediately from conservative treatments. While orthotic insoles offer immediate pain relief for many people, healing the underlying condition of Plantar Fasciitis takes time to resolve–just as it took time to develop.
By avoiding these six mistakes and staying consistent with your at-home treatments, it’s not only possible but extremely likely that you’ll find healing and relief from your heel pain.