Question:I've had plantar fasciitis for three years now. The doctor tells me this is much longer than the usual case. Most people are better after a few months, maybe as much as a year. I've run out of treatments to try. Is there anything new out there?
Answer:The standard treatment methods include heat, antiinflammatory drugs, and stretching. Physical therapy applied early can help soften the fascia along the bottom of the foot and stretch the tissue to keep it from pulling and causing chronic inflammation.
The therapist can show you how to tape your foot to help limit pressure on the heel. He or she may also fit you with an orthotic (shoe insert) to help support the foot. Some patients use a special sock at night to gently stretch the tissue.
In resistant cases, a fitted splint to maintain a gentle stretch across the sole of the foot may be worn while sleeping. Local steroid injections are often tried in persistent cases. And putting the foot in a cast for several weeks may help.
Newer treatments include FDA-approved shock wave treatment called extracorporeal shock-wave. This high-pressure, low-energy sound-wave technology has been used to treat kidney stones and may be helpful for plantar fasciitis.
The treatment uses noninvasive technology to break up heel spurs and ease tissue thicknening. Studies are underway to determine the best treatment frequency, duration, and intensity for PF.K. B. Landorf et al. Customized or Prefabricated Foot Orthoses Improved Function Only in the Short Term in Patients with Plantar Fasciitis. In The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. February 2007. Vol. 89-A. No. 2. Pp. 458.
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