04 Feb Why Orthotics Don’t Fix Plantar Fasciitis (and What does Work)
Why Orthotics Don’t Fix Plantar Fasciitis (and What does Work)
If you’ve sought relief of heel pain or plantar fasciitis you’ve likely been prescribed a pair of orthotics. In fact, orthotics are largely thought in the podiatry profession to be the go-to treatment option for resolving the pain caused by plantar fasciitis.
If so many podiatrists are prescribing this treatment method, it must work, right?
At Alternative Foot Solutions heel pain from plantar fasciitis is one of the main conditions we treat. In our years of experience, we’ve found that orthotics are actually not the most effective treatment for heel pain and cause a lot of unnecessary discomfort, expense and frustration for sufferers.
Let’s start by digging a little deeper into how orthotics work.
What are orthotics?
Orthotics are a custom insole, worn inside your footwear. They can be made from a number of different materials including carbon fibre and plastics and can be rigid or soft depending on the condition they are aiming to treat. The basic mechanics of orthotics is to correct alignment issues by using the custom shape of the orthotic itself to hold the foot in the desired position.
How do orthotics treat plantar fasciitis?
The most common cause of plantar fasciitis is a misalignment of the bones in the foot. Underlying alignment issues are not always outwardly apparent but can cause additional force or stress through the plantar fascia – the ligament that runs along the arch of your foot from your heel to your toes. Over time this misalignment puts strain on the plantar fascia resulting in micro tears that lead to inflammation and the heel pain known as plantar fasciitis.
Orthotics are used to realign the foot, taking the pressure off the plantar fascia and providing temporary relief from the pain. In essence, this works in a similar way to taking a painkiller for a headache, it relieves the symptoms but it doesn’t address the underlying cause.
Orthotics hold the foot in place as long as you wear them but the foot relies on the presence of the orthotics to maintain this position. Once you change your shoes or take the orthotics out your foot returns to its natural shape and the pain returns.
What is the alternative to orthotics for plantar fasciitis?
To address the underlying cause of plantar fasciitis we need to find a longer term, more permanent solution to correcting the alignment of the foot – one that doesn’t rely on always wearing orthotics.
The best way to achieve this is by strategically strengthening the muscles around the plantar fascia so your foot is strong enough to hold itself in the correct position. In the same way we might strengthen the core muscles to relieve lower back pain, the alignment of your foot can actually be changed through building and training the muscles of the feet.
This approach is commonly known as Foot Mobilisation Therapy and involves gentle hands on manipulation of the joints of the foot, stimulating the nervous system and strengthening the necessary muscles. This is combined with simple exercises that can be performed daily, taking no more than five minutes.
Foot Mobilisation Therapy also provides other benefits such as improved posture and better balance, and reduces the occurrence of related conditions such as hip and knee pain.
Addressing the cause of your plantar fasciitis through this treatment method provides long term results and doesn’t limit your footwear choices in the way orthotics can – in fact you can go barefoot if you like!
In training your feet to be self-reliant you avoid the cost, discomfort and inconvenience of ongoing orthotic treatment.
We offer an initial heel pain assessment to determine the underlying cause of your plantar fasciitis and to determine an appropriate treatment plan. This assessment is usually $100 but is offered to new patients at just $35, claimable on your private health insurance.