Plantar Fascia is a very thick ligament present on the bottom of your foot. It starts from the heel and connects to the base of the toes. This ligament often gets injuries and strains, making walking and standing unbearable. This damage leads to a condition called plantar fasciitis. There are many reasons for this condition, including excessive physical activity and obesity.
Though surgery is an effective treatment for plantar fasciitis, patients and doctors consider it the last option. Your initial treatment plan should include alternative non-surgical methods. Other treatments like medications, laser therapy, orthotics, and physical therapy have also shown fruitful results for plantar fasciitis.
It is essential to consult a physician for a detailed examination of your condition. They will suggest to you the most suitable alternative treatment for plantar fasciitis. The 9 most common and effective alternatives are the following:
1. Extracorporeal Pulse Activation Technology (EPAT)
EPAT is a type of shockwave therapy that can treat many foot and ankle-related injuries, including plantar fasciitis. This therapy is effective and quick; each session takes five to ten minutes.
EPAT requires no numbing gel or anesthesia. While performing EPAT, podiatrists will apply some ultrasound gel and send shock waves directly onto the injury and pain area. This alternative treatment for plantar fasciitis also reduces inflammation and breaks the remaining scar tissues.
Moreover, EPAT speeds up the recovery process while promoting healing. It is usually performed on patients with chronic plantar fasciitis. However, most patients require four to five sessions to relieve the pain.
The extracorporeal pulse activation technology comes with no significant risks or side effects. You may feel a slight discomfort in the affected area for a few days but nothing else. Still, you should thoroughly consult a podiatrist before opting for this treatment.
Orthotics are special insoles to treat painful foot strains and injuries like plantar fasciitis. These insoles can enhance and balance your foot function while providing support and protection. In addition, they reduce the pressure and stress on the plantar fascia to prevent pain and inflammation.
There are many over-the-counter orthotics available in the market. However, only custom orthotics will help the plantar fasciitis pain. Custom orthotics are made according to your foot’s exact measurements and structure.
You can discuss the orthotics treatment with your podiatrist. They will identify the ideal cushioning and size after carefully examining the irregularities in your heel. These custom insoles will treat plantar fasciitis by keeping your foot aligned and controlling joint motion.
Custom orthotics can be very expensive, considering the customized manufacturing and fitting. However, they are very effective in treating and preventing plantar fasciitis.
3. Laser Therapy
A laser is a high beam of light used as a powerful medical tool in medicine. From dermatologists to oncologists to cosmetic surgeons, every doctor uses lasers to treat multiple conditions.
Laser therapy is also a non-invasive, painless, and effective alternative treatment for plantar fasciitis. This procedure is very patient-friendly and has no side effects or discomfort.
However, there are two types of laser therapies for plantar fasciitis; Cold Laser and Hot Laser Therapy. The only difference between the two types is the amount of heat they generate. Cold laser therapy uses very little heat, while hot laser generates a high one. Your podiatrist will recommend the suitable type according to your heel’s condition.
Your podiatrist will apply red infrared light directly on the injured site in laser therapy. The light rays will reduce inflammation and heal the tissues of the plantar fascia. Laser therapy will also accelerate the healing and recovery process. According to a study, this inexpensive therapy showed positive signs in 80% of plantar fasciitis cases.
4. OTC Medications
You can manage plantar fasciitis pain with several over-the-counter medications. The most common options are NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and painkillers like naproxen, ibuprofen, and cox-2 inhibitors. You should always consult a pharmacist or your podiatrist before taking any medication.
However, keep in mind that OTC medications only provide symptomatic relief. It would be best if you combined them with other treatments to heal the plantar fasciitis entirely.
5. Corticosteroid Injections
Your doctor can recommend steroid or corticosteroid injections if you don’t respond to other treatments. Injecting cortisone into the affected area can help reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling.
According to a clinical study, corticosteroid injections have shown more positive results for plantar fasciitis than extracorporeal pulse activation technology, physical therapy, and NSAIDs. Moreover, they are inexpensive and require no recovery time.
However, corticosteroid injections are also pain management tools like OTC medications, not a cure. They may reduce pain and inflammation for a couple of weeks but won’t heal the tissues. In fact, a high amount of steroids can cause damage to the heel’s tissues.
Always consult your doctor before opting for steroid injections. These injections are not a permanent solution alone. Combining them with any other alternative treatment for plantar fasciitis would be best.
6. Ultrasonic Tissue Repair
Ultrasonic tissue repair is an innovative and effective treatment to cure chronic plantar fasciitis. This non-invasive treatment uses ultrasound energy and a needle-like probe to break the damaged tissues of your plantar fascia. The probe then sucks out the tissues and relieves pain and inflammation. This treatment can also promote the growth of new tissues.
7. Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is a proven and effective alternative treatment for plantar fasciitis. Your podiatrist may refer you to a physical therapist if your case is mild. A physical therapist will evaluate your plantar fascia and develop an exercise plan to relieve the symptoms.
Your treatment may include the following:
- Stretching Exercises. Your physical therapist may perform stretching exercises to improve flexibility and relieve symptoms of plantar fasciitis. These exercises may include calf stretch, ankle stretch, toe stretch, toe curl, towel stretch, and foot stretch.
- Strengthening Exercises. These exercises can increase the strength of the supporting muscles around your plantar fascia. Some common strengthening exercises are picking up marbles and tennis ball rolls.
- Cold Compress. Your physical therapist may give you a cold or ice compress to reduce the pain and inflammation.
8. Special Devices
Your podiatrist or physical therapist may introduce you to special devices and tools to ease the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Here are some common options:
- Night Splints. Your therapist may recommend you wear night splints to hold your plantar fascia in a stretching position. This tool will reduce the pain while you sleep.
- Walking Crutches, Canes, or Boot. You may use any of these three tools while walking. They will prevent you from moving or placing weight on the affected foot.
- Foot Roller. Your therapist can recommend a foot roller to strengthen your foot muscles.
- Roller Massager. If plantar fasciitis is affecting your calf, then a roller massager is an excellent tool to relieve the pain.
9. Orthobiologic Methods
Orthobiologic methods are a type of regenerative medicine commonly used to treat plantar fasciitis. They are not only non-surgical but also very smooth and painless for patients.
At CELLAXYS, we perform two types of orthobiologic methods for pain relief: cell-based therapies and PRPs (Platelet-rich plasma therapies). These treatments are non-invasive and have a short recovery time. Our team of certified healthcare professionals and podiatrists will closely examine your plantar fascia and suggest the most suitable orthobiologic method for you.
Cell-based therapy is also known as stem cell therapy. It is an innovative and common procedure that heals and generates the ligaments. This method uses the patient’s own cells from healthy areas and reinjects them into the affected heel. Cell-based therapies will alleviate the pain and regenerate the dead cells of the plantar fascia.
There are two types of cell-based therapies your podiatrists perform after evaluating your condition:
- Minimally Manipulated Adipose Tissue Transplant (MMAT). This process extracts cells from your fat tissue and reinjects them into the plantar fascia area. The MMAT cell-based therapy excellently reduces inflammation.
- Bone Marrow Concentrate (BMAC). This method extracts cells from your bone marrow and reinjects them into the affected area. BMAC promotes healing and shortens the recovery time.
Both MMAT and BMAC cell-based therapies are entirely safe and painless. They will take a maximum of 2 hours to complete. Also, the patient will be ready to go home after a few hours of observation.
Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP)
PRP is a regenerative method that uses your own blood platelets to trigger the regeneration process. Your doctor will take your blood sample, isolate platelets from the blood, and re-inject them into the plantar fascia area.
Platelets are the healing components of your body. They have the power to prevent severe injuries. Moreover, they promote the growth and development of new cells and tissues by producing fibrin in the body.
If your plantar fascia has a high number of platelets, it will heal quickly. This alternative method for plantar fasciitis is painless, non-invasive, and ends in 45 minutes. The maximum recovery time after PRP is four weeks. However, patients can still feel better before this time frame.