I have plantar fasciitis. Will using insoles help?
Plantar fasciitis is often caused by a tight Achilles tendon that then alters your foot mechanics and puts stress on the origin of the plantar fascia, which is on the bottom of the foot and originates from the bottom of the heel bone. This leads to inflammation, microtears, degeneration and commonly pain. Stretching is the best way to treat plantar fasciitis. A physician or physical therapist can show you several specific stretches for your calf and bottom of your foot. Your calf is made of 2 muscles that connect and form the Achilles tendon (thick cord-like structure at the back of your heel) and the plantar fascia is a thick tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot.
When someone comes in with a diagnosis of plantar fasciitis, I always tell him to be patient. It takes time, dedicated stretching and therapy to correct the problem. Many times, the symptoms have been present for months to years and you cannot expect the problem to go away overnight, but correct therapy will speed up the process! Beyond stretching, there are several treatment options available to heal plantar fasciitis:
Night splinting to keep your foot above neutral flexion and prevent contracture of the plantar fascia during sleep
Look at either custom orthotics or over-the-counter orthotics depending on the foot alignment
If a patient has severe pain, I sometimes rest the foot in a camboot (removable black boot that resembles a ski boot)
Foot alignment can play a role in plantar fasciitis, which is why orthotics and inserts can be helpful. If the foot is skewed from neutral – for example you’re flat footed or have a high arch – this can change the foot’s biomechanics and ultimately cause foot problems, including plantar fasciitis.
As for inserts, it’s important to get the right kind. This can be challenging since everyone has different feet. In general, however, a soft, full-length semi-rigid orthotic is the most comfortable for most people. Soft heel cups can also help offload some of the pressure from the plantar fascia and decrease your pain. In the end, you have to find something that is comfortable and works for you.
My final piece of advice to anyone with plantar fasciitis is to keep stretching! It can help you feel better and prevent problems in the future.
Dr. Kristen Kuratnick is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle issues with ThedaCare Orthopedics Plus.