Question:I have plantar fasciitis on the right side. I've heard there's a night splint that can be used. Is this safe? Does it really work?
Answer:Plantar fasciitis causes a tightness and pain of the plantar fascia along the bottom of the foot. It can make getting up in the morning a very painful process. Surgical results to release the soft tissues have mixed results.
A recent study at the Center for Foot and Ankle Research at the University of Rochester in New York focused on the treatment of plantar fasciitis. They treated two groups of patients who had plantar fasciitis for more than 10 months. Group A performed Achilles' tendon stretches, while Group B stretched the plantar fascia.
The plantar fascia stretching group had the best result. At the end of the first phase of the study, the Achilles' tendon group was given the plantar fascia exercise to perform every day for eight weeks. They quickly caught up with the plantar fascia group with less pain and improved function.
A night splint puts the foot and ankle in the same position used to stretch the plantar fascia. The ankle and toes are bent back toward the face in a position called dorsiflexion. The splint is as effective as the daily stretching exercise. However, the splint has a few problems.
The splint doesn't help keep the plantar fascia stretched out during the day. The manual stretch can be done after long periods of inactivity. It's especially helpful when the stretch is completed before getting up in the morning. The stretching exercise also costs less than the night splint.Benedict F. DiGiovanni, MD, et al. Plantar Fascia-Specific Stretching Exercise Improves Outcomes in Patients with Chronic Plantar Fasciitis. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. August 2006. Vol. 88-A. No. 8. Pp. 1776-1781.
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