The foot contains a series of muscles and connective tissues which makes it function. The connective tissue between the heel area and the toes is called the Plantar Fascia.
The purpose of the Plantar Fascia is to serve as an arch support for the foot which makes it possible for one to walk. Just like any other muscle, it also undergoes wear and tears through use and abuse. Once the connective tissue gets strained, inflammation occurs, particularly at the heel area of the foot. This causes pain similar to gravel or pebble poking through your shoe either after long periods of walking or after constant pressure from sitting or standing.
That particular pain that you may experience on the heel area of the foot is called Plantar Fasciitis. How long does Plantar Fasciitis last? First, let's take a look at the levels of pain that one may experience.
Different levels of Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis can be broken down into 3 main levels of suffering, from mild, to moderate, to serious. Let's get into each one in more detail and help see which level your case may fall in.
The pain experienced in mild cases of Plantar Fasciitis occurs after any physical activity that requires the foot to do extra work. This is usually normal and can be mistaken for fatigue at times.
This can commonly happen to people who put their foot through an extra strain prior to a sporting competition or any activity that requires heavy use of the feet.
If the pain occurs before and after subjecting your feet to certain physical activity, you might have a case of moderate Plantar Fasciitis. This is usually common in Athletes and people who lift heavy weights in their daily activities.
What happens is that pain occurs prior to subjecting the foot through physical activity but subsides once the foot warms up with activity. The relapse of pain occurs after a certain activity where the foot is on a rested or stable position.
In serious cases of Plantar Fasciitis, the pain at the heel of the foot occurs before, during, and after subjecting the foot to physical activity. The pain may sometimes extend to when the feet are at rest.
Usually, this is caused by severe inflammation of the Plantar Fascia or a more serious matter. The heel bone is susceptible to what is called a "bone spur."
Bone spurs are the built-up bone created when the cartilage breaks down. This creates a tiny piece of bone matter that may poke through the muscle causing inflammation.
In the case of Plantar Fasciitis, a bone spur forms on the heel bone and pokes through the connective tissue of the heel causing it to be inflamed.
Best ways to treat Plantar Fasciitis
Now that you're more familiar with the levels, let's explore some of the best treatments.
The choice of footwear is essential when dealing with Plantar Fasciitis. Choose one with good arch support depending on the level of pain you are experiencing.
Brands like OrthoFeet and Vionic are designed specifically for these types of foot conditions. Asics and New Balance are also Plantar Fasciitis friendly.
Orthotic insoles are your next best option if you don’t want to sacrifice style for function. These shoe inserts also offer the same arch support as orthotic footwear whilst wearing the shoe of your choice.
These insoles come in either foam or gel-type material which not only relaxes the foot but also places Acupressure on the heels. Acupressure is the process of applying physical pressure on certain points of the body.
Acupressure is similar to Acupuncture except that soft material is used instead of needles.
Supplements and Essential Oils
Supplements are just as important as physical treatment. This ensures that the process of healing and recovery becomes quicker especially when inflammation starts to worsen.
Though not to be fully relied on, vitamins and supplements should only be used as aids in treating Plantar Fasciitis. It is also recommended that most of its intake come from natural sources.
Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid helps strengthen and repair muscle tissues according to studies. It can be bought in the market in supplement form, but citrus fruits are rich in Vitamin C as well.
Magnesium may be the most important nutrient the body needs when dealing with Plantar Fasciitis. This is because Magnesium is responsible for Calcium absorption.
When the body absorbs too much calcium, it makes unnecessary deposits which can create bone spurs that poke through muscle tissues. A heel spur can cause inflammation of the Plantar Fascia of the foot.
Some people would also rely on essential oils such as Peppermint, Lemongrass, Frankincense, etc., to treat Plantar Fasciitis. These oils contain anti-inflammatory properties which people find relief in when applied.
Essential oils are also said to improve blood circulation and provide aromatherapy.
Exercise and Therapy
Speaking of therapy, Plantar Fasciitis is also treated through physical therapy. This becomes an option when basic remedies are no longer enough.
Active Release Techniques or ART are designed to release the built-up tension on the Plantar Fascia brought by foot habits and day-to-day activities. Some prefer to do ART on themselves while the services of a chiropractor are needed in severe cases.
The Graston Technique is similar to ART but requires the use of stainless steel tools. These allow the person performing the therapy to apply more pressure on the affected muscle fiber.
In minor cases, simple stretching and a few exercises would suffice. Toe stretches or stretching by use of a towel are common stretching exercise techniques.
A person’s weight can also be attributed with Plantar Fasciitis. This is because the excess weight a person carries subjects the Plantar Fascia to more stress.
A study on individuals with Plantar Fasciitis showed that 90 percent of their subjects were either overweight or obese. Those numbers are alarming considering how much less mobile some overweight individuals are.
Losing those extra pounds is just as important as the other treatments done as carrying excess weight may negate the purpose of orthotic footwear and therapy. Diet makes up 80 percent of your weight loss program with exercise being only 20 percent.
How long is the healing process for Plantar Fasciitis?
The healing process for Plantar Fasciitis depends on the degree of pain one feels on his or her foot. For mild and some moderate cases, a typical bed rest solves it.
Resting the foot in a neutral position allows the connective tissue to repair and regenerate. Bed rest also gives the entire body an opportunity to recover as well; thus, making all systems function properly and help speed up the recovery period of the Plantar Fascia.
The problem with the healing process is that it can be potentially interrupted. The durability of a healthy Plantar Fascia suddenly becomes vulnerable once it gets damaged.
Just like a sturdier wall which takes longer to build than a regular wall, the Plantar Fascia’s lengthy recovery time is susceptible to all interruptions, especially the grinds of daily life.
So what does the Plantar Fascia’s recovery time depend on?
We have to take into consideration that not all people are the same. In every form of treatment, there are factors such as occupation, weight, remedies, and even the length of injury, etc. which we have to consider.
Those who work blue-collar jobs, especially those which require lifting heavy loads may have a hard time recovering as compared to those who work white-collar jobs which usually have their feet on a rested position most of the day. (see the best work shoes for plantar fasciitis)
Since a person’s extra weight may place unnecessary pressure on the Plantar Fascia, even a conscious effort on weight management may depend on certain factors. Those who inherit thyroid problems may have a harder time losing those extra pounds as compared to those who gained weight due to neglect.
According to a study, 67 percent of thyroid hormone concentrations are genetically determined. This means that the recovery time for people with low thyroid levels tends to be longer even with conscious efforts on diet and exercise.
As for the remedies, some people prefer to go over-the-counter while some would like a more natural approach to their treatment. The recovery time for remedies usually depends on how the body reacts and the regularity of treatment.
It is simple logic that those who do not seek treatment more often than needed or advised would only prolong the lingering pain on their foot. This is why the length of injury also something to consider
Powering to Plantar Fasciitis subjects the Plantar Fascia to repeated beating; thus, worsening whatever damage it has already sustained. The longer Plantar Fasciitis is left untreated, the longer it will take for the connective tissue to heal.
So how long does Plantar Fasciitis last? It all depends on the person's approach. If not treated responsibly, the damage can be long-term especially in serious cases where corrective surgery might be needed.
You must not also rely on a single treatment method but rather a combination of multiple treatments. It is best to seek the advice of a physician as to what treatment is best for the level of pain you are experiencing. Dealing with Plantar Fasciitis isn’t easy but having it treated as soon as you feel pain will definitely make your life easier.