Plantar Fasciitis; what your GP should offer you but doesn’t have the time

With the average length of a GP appointment sitting at 7 minutes, how is your doctor ever going to have enough time to listen to your symptoms let alone make an accurate diagnosis of plantar fasciitis? And, if you’ve reached out for help, the chances are you are already desperate for practical advice on what you can do to deal with the debilitating effects that you’re experiencing.

So, let’s fast track you to some of the things that your GP might walk you through if only there he or she had time. The most common cause of heel pain in both men and women is plantar fasciitis caused by a strain to the plantar fascia. There are at least 8 possible treatments that may be on your doctor’s radar to explore in depth with you;

1. Anti-inflammatory drugs

Drugs are prescribed to ease pain and reduce swelling. Ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatories are commonly used to manage plantar fasciitis. Prolonged and regular use of pain relief drugs is something you may wish to avoid as it can be accompanied by complications and side effects.

2. Orthotic support

Poor quality shoes that lack adequate arch support can cause plantar fasciitis so finding an insert with cushioning in the heel and soft tissue support under the foot can give relief. Custom inserts can be expensive while off-the-shelf inserts may offer only temporary relief or too little too late.

3. Splints

You may be advised to try a splint or a brace designed to gently stretch the calf and the foot bringing some relief to the fascia. Splints are often a boot-like device, recommended to be worn at night. They are cumbersome to wear so can cause difficulty sleeping and add to your sense of discomfort.

4. Steroid injections

Many healthy adults who jog or run are desperate for a quick fix to the plantar fasciitis preventing them enjoying their passion. A quick read around online running forums reveals very little success from cortisone injections, even as the last resort.

5. Athletic taping & physical therapy

Some physios will apply intricate narrow loops and figures of 8 under the arch and around the back of the heel to offer the support to prevent further swelling. It can be tricky to master yourself and be aware that some people are allergic to the zinc oxide tape used. Regular physiotherapy can be lengthy, costly and often only available privately.

6, ESWT Shockwave therapy

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended Extracorporeal Shockwave therapy for refractory tendinopathies like plantar fasciitis but this is often only available privately costing upwards of £300 per session in a hospital setting.

7. Fasciotomy

Your GP, orthopedic surgeon or podiatric physician would only recommend this surgical procedure for chronic plantar fasciitis when all other stretching, taping, orthotics and anti-inflammatories have failed to release the fascia. It should only be considered as the very last resort, due to all the risks of surgery and slow recovery.

8. Heelease

A small device that you strap to the site of pain for proven, quick, painless and inexpensive treatment for the relief of plantar fasciitis. It offers ESWT that you can control yourself, flexible and easy to use at home or work, supported by a wealth of real-life case studies and a money back guarantee.

Next week: Are you flare aware? What causes Plantar Fasciitis to flare up?

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