Does your first step in the morning feel like stepping on a Lego? Is walking a pain even when you’re wearing your favorite, comfiest shoes, or even barefoot? You’re not alone.
You may be suffering from plantar heel pain, or plantar fasciitis, a disorder that is characterised by sharp pain in the heel and throughout the bottom of the foot, or the plantar. The pain is worst in the morning with your first few steps, and often feels like a dull ache for the rest of the day too. Studies show that as many as 10% of people suffer from this disorder at some point in their life, with almost half of them still experiencing pain even 15 years after the onset of the symptoms!
This is not necessarily an accurate figure either, considering that misinformation about foot health is widespread, and as much as 80% of all heel pain cases may be due to plantar fasciitis. While it is often found in conjunction with heel spurs, which are better-known to the layman, their relationship is unclear, and resolving one may not necessarily resolve the other.
How to deal with it, then? Solutions for plantar heel pain may vary depending on your personal circumstances. After all, everybody has a unique body and lifestyle – there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all treatment. For instance, the way you walk, your job, and your daily activities as well as your unique foot shape and the progression of the disorder all play a role in determining what treatment course you should undergo.
We at Family Podiatry Centre prefer conservative, minimally-invasive treatments for plantar fasciitis. This means that we avoid surgery where possible. A majority of our Singaporean patients respond well to non-surgical intervention, including custom made orthotics, special exercises to strengthen surrounding muscles and extracorporeal shockwave therapy, which we also use during treatment for knee osteoarthritis.
Online forums or non-specialist doctors may tell you that corticosteroid injections or ready-made insoles will help to relieve your plantar heel pain, but recent studies have shown that those “treatments” do a poor job of solving your foot problems in the long run. You can watch a video of a plantar fasciitis treatment performed by one of our podiatrists on our YouTube channel here.
However, even the fanciest, most cutting-edge treatments like low-level laser therapy, radial soundwave or extracorporeal shockwave therapy must be administered early. In fact, they should be employed as soon as possible after you notice the onset of symptoms.
It might be tempting to think you can just suck it up and power through the pain as we Asians are wont to do, but the longer you wait, the less effective treatment will be – and the more you will have you go through to properly solve your foot problems. As shown by one of the studies linked above, while laser therapy and extracorporeal shockwave therapy are both highly effective in treating plantar fasciitis, waiting for more than six months to undergo treatment reduces the effectiveness of radial soundwave and extracorporeal shockwave therapy significantly.
What would be the best course of treatment for you?
Book a consultation with us and find out. We’re here to help.