There are a number of different technologies that can be used to help the damaged plantar fascia heal when non-invasive and injection therapies do not work. These types of therapy work by breaking up scar tissue and encouraging better blood circulation.
Many of these minimally invasive treatments are in-office or outpatient treatments and are considered fairly successful, but results vary from case to case. Choosing the right therapy is very dependent upon getting a good diagnosis.
Here are some of the most successful plantar fasciitis treatments
It is important to pinpoint the location and qualities of the scar tissue and inflammation involved in this condition. To do so, doctors may use a technique known as Instrumented Soft Tissue Mobilization (ISTM). This process makes use of very specialized tools that locate the damaged tissue, making removal more complete and accurate.
ISTM can be used on any part of the body where inflammation and scarring are present. The tools used in each instance are specialized to the body part in question. For detection of scarring and inflammation of the plantar fascia, tools that are specifically designed for use around the great toe, heel bone and calves are used. These instruments are run firmly along the areas where inflammation and scarring are suspected.
Once the damaged tissues are located, they are broken down so that they can be carried away in the bloodstream and reabsorbed by your body. This specialized process results in lessened recovery time and more complete return to normal flexibility and range of motion. Generally speaking, bi-weekly ISTM sessions over a one month period can be quite successful.
Mechanical shock waves delivered through a hand-held device can also increase blood circulation and promote healing. This process is called Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT).
Like ISTM, it may take a series of treatments to attain full effect. Unlike ISTM, this procedure may have some negative side-effects, including:
3. Tenex FAST
This is another procedure in which your doctor will use a hand-held device to deliver healing energy - in this case sound waves or ultrasonic energy. As with those described so far, this procedure focuses on breaking up and removing dead tissue and promoting healing. Unlike ISTM and ESWT, Tenex FAST is a bit invasive and can be a bit painful. Small incision(s) may be necessary, and you will need local anesthetic.
Your doctor will use a wand for this procedure, but it’s not as glamorous as it sounds. You will receive local anesthesia and then your doctor will use the wand to puncture your heel a number of times for the purpose of delivering radio frequency waves. This treatment is said to improve blood circulation, break up scar tissue and facilitate healing.
This is another procedure that uses radio frequency waves, but it doesn’t require anesthesia, punctures or incisions.
What If These Procedures Don’t Work?
Surgery for plantar fasciitis is usually successful, but as with all surgery, side effects are possible. Nerve damage is always a risk when incisions are made in the skin. Additionally, flattening of the arch of your foot may result when the plantar fascia is cut.
Even with these risks, if all else fails, your doctor may suggest a surgical procedure called Plantar Fasciotomy or a variant known as Endoscopic Plantar Fasciotomy.
With the first choice, the surgeon will make a one-and-a-half inch incision in your heel followed by very precise cuts aimed at releasing the tension in your plantar fascia. This is rather a large incision for the sole of your foot, and recovery is understandably a bit painful and lengthy.
That’s why many doctors and patients prefer the endoscopic version which relies on much smaller heel incisions. This procedure is less invasive and carries less nerve damage risk. Unfortunately, it does require specialized training and equipment.
You Can Find Relief For Your Plantar Fasciitis
More than two million people seek help for this common problem every year, so it stands to reason that doctors and researchers are always hard at work looking for new solutions. Luckily for you, many of the best, natural, non-invasive solutions are quite effective and entirely at your disposal.
If you try diet, exercise, icing, shoe inserts and all of the common, non-prescription solutions for several months, to no avail, ask your doctor about the procedures outlined here. Between these options and new solutions on the horizon, you will surely find just the right treatment for plantar fasciitis to suit your needs.