Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation disease that causes heel pain and involves the tearing or injury of the fibrous tendons along the bottom of the foot – usually just one foot. As I learned when I had the condition several years ago and when it recently came back with weight gain, treating a chronic plantar fascia injury can successfully be done by following a suite of therapies. But I’ve also learned there may not be any such thing as a true, permanent cure for plantar fasciitis.
Plantar Fasciitis “Cure?” Or Lifelong Treatment?
With treatment, the heel pain is usually eliminated within nine months, with some cases taking much less time and others taking as long as two years, according to the article “Plantar Fasciitis” by the National Institute of Health’s MedLine Plus. However, finding a real, get-rid-of-it-once-and-for-all cure for plantar fasciitis would mean that the underlying cause has been identified and eliminated. That is often not the case, so perhaps the correct terminology would be “successful treatment” rather than “cure.”
Chronic Plantar Fasciitis – The Pain That Keeps Coming Back
Plantar fasciitis has a tendency to become chronic, which means it recurs, and that is due to a variety of causes. Unfortunately, reinjury during the healing process is common and leads to a delay in healing. Too, the underlying pathology may involve the permanent loss of collagen fibers, as researchers report in an article entitled “Common Foot Disorders” in the 2015 issue of Clinical Medicine & Research.
Essentially, patients with heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis should expect it to go away, but should also be prepared for it to recur. Therefore, from a patient’s perspective, it seems to me that preventative as well as treatment measures are the best way to approach “curing” plantar fasciitis, or more accurately, to keep it from recurring.
Checklist for Treating and Preventing Plantar Fasciitis
Much treatment can be done conservatively at home, and oftentimes more invasive treatments like surgery and steroids are never needed. Treatments are usually tailored to the patient; for example, those with flat feet who experience overpronation may receive advice different from that offered to patients with high arches whose problem is oversupination.
The doctor or podiatrist may recommend some of the following treatments for heel pain:
- application of cold to reduce plantar fascia inflammation
- foot and calf massage and stretches to loosen the affected muscles
- foot exercises to strengthen the muscles
- moderate level of standing and walking in shoes and sandals with arch support and insoles with arch support and/or cushioning to prevent reinjury
- foot taping for arch support
- night splint, brace or therapeutic boot to keep the foot and calf muscles from tightening up during sleep
- heel cups or lifts
- no barefoot weight bearing
- for athletes, temporarily stopping the activity that caused the problem
No Cure, Perhaps, But Hope, Definitely
I have chronic plantar fasciitis and am pretty sure there’s no true cure for it. But in my case, at least, “chronic” only means that every few years, it acts up. I treat it swiftly with ice, massage, stretches, strengthening exercises, and never going barefoot, and it goes away pretty quickly, although this last time, it did take a couple of weeks instead of just a couple of days. I believe that I can easily get rid of my plantar fasciitis because I never ignore the warning signs and deal with it right away, using a blitz of treatments.
Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional. I was a patient with plantar fasciitis. This article was informed by my own experiences and the sources cited above and does not constitute medical advice or a medical opinion in any way, shape or form. It’s for informational purposes, so please ask your doctor before you start, or stop, any treatment.