When stricken with a torturous condition like plantar fasciitis, it is understandable for you or anyone else to seek out a quick fix. Who wouldn’t? Unfortunately, quick fixes for plantar fasciitis are in short supply. But that doesn’t mean some “instant cures” won’t be dangled in front of vulnerable plantar fasciitis victims.
The two most common, supposedly quick solutions people turn to in hopes of reprieve from the agony are
1) surgery, and
2) corticosteroid injections.
In the great majority of cases, both are poor choices for the plantar fasciitis sufferer, and here’s why:
In the case of surgery, the procedure often makes no difference. The New England Journal of Medicine reports that in approximately 25% of all people who have surgery for plantar fasciitis, the heel pain remains. And even more unsettling: the release of tension on the injured plantar fascia, meant to relieve pressure and the “pull” on it that allows the fascia to stay vulnerable, is done by cutting it. This same relief of pressure can be achieved by thorough and consistent flexibility exercises. Regular stretching sounds easier and less frightening to me…how about you?
Corticosteroid injections often bring instant, albeit temporary, relief. But the relief is supplied in some cases at great cost. The majority of experts agree, corticosteroid injections can come with some nasty side effects. Some of these side effects are as follows:
• Muscle damage in the immediate area.
• Complete rupture of the fascia (as opposed to the much milder micro-tears associated with plantar fasciitis).
• Skin pigmentation changes.
• Injury to peripheral nerves.
• Atrophy of the fat pad in your heel (padding which provides crucial protection).
Repeated injections increase these risks. Since they provide temporary pain relief and not healing, once on the injection treadmill, you may in fact come to rely on these repeat injections. Watch out. Get dependent on corticosteroid injections and you could end up with a condition that makes plantar fasciitis look pretty tame.
And what’s more, neither surgery nor corticosteroid injections address the things that cause plantar fasciitis in the first place. Neither “remedy” makes key areas of your body flexible; neither makes weak supporting muscles strong. They have nothing to do with better footwear, arch supports, and foot protection. Neither encourages you to increase or decrease certain activities according to your specific situation and level of injury. These are the things needed to make plantar fasciitis disappear and make it stay gone.
It’s my opinion that a person avoid both surgery and corticosteroid injections, and instead embrace a regimen of active recovery. Such a program will reduce or eliminate pain from plantar fasciitis. It will make you more flexible and strong, and the exercise routine may even help you become a little lighter! (Shedding excess weight definitely helps your feet during plantar fasciitis recovery.) And other than good footwear and possibly devices like a night splint and over-the-counter shoe inserts, this kind of self-directed program is FREE. Compare that to the costly surgery and injection procedures some folks undergo. Besides being cheaper and safer, steps involved in an active recovery program are generally easy, painless, and can even be pleasant.