Foot Health Blog
Find expert articles from physical therapists and podiatrists to help understand, diagnose, and treat different foot health issues such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, flat feet, and more.
Plantar Fasciitis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, and More
The latest research is showing that plantar fasciitis consists of small micro-tears and thickening in the plantar fascia itself (the band of soft tissue that makes up the arch of the foot) and is most commonly caused by your feet being overloaded. The most common causes of this overload are poor foot mechanics (collapsed arches, flat, and high-arched feet) combined with too much standing and inappropriate shoes. Sport and exercise are also often implicated again due to the foot being overloaded and not getting a chance to heal itself.
The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is heel pain that increases after exercise, long periods of sitting, or when you first wake up in the morning. However, plantar fasciitis can cause more problems if left untreated.
» Can orthotics relieve plantar fasciitis symptoms? Upstep's plantar fasciitis custom orthotics can easily fit into your lifestyle and provide the necessary support for your feet
What Can You Do About Plantar Fasciitis Heel Pain?
Correct the foot mechanics with custom-made orthotics
This is particularly important if you have had plantar fasciitis for over 3 months.
Strengthen the muscles of your hips, legs, and feet
Perform exercises designed to make them work better when standing and walking. Simple foot exercises are simply not enough.
Change your shoes
Shoes with good support and a small heel lift are essential. A good pair of running shoes or walking boots are good, flat and soft sneakers are not!
What’s So Special About the Upstep Custom Orthotic Solution?
Our orthotics are custom made to your own foot shape. This means that they will give the maximum support to your feet to reduce the underlying forces responsible.
All of our orthotics come with a comprehensive range of exercises designed by a specialist - our in-house Podiatrist, Philip Wells. These work with your orthotics to give the fastest and most comprehensive rehabilitation program possible.
» Still not convinced custom orthotics are for you? Read the plantar fasciitis custom orthotics review
More Tips for Reducing Plantar Fasciitis Heel Pain
Combining orthotics, good footwear, and exercises always give the best long-term success.Be patient. It takes, on average, 6 months to fully recover from a really bad case of plantar fasciitis.
Everyone is different and this is never truer than when dealing with plantar fasciitis. This means that there is no magic bullet for everyone. However, the general rule of thumb is that in 99% of cases it is the overload of the foot that is to blame and this has to be removed.
Foot painCuboid Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, and RecoveryCuboid syndrome is the movement of the cuboid bone in the foot to the extent where it shifts out of alignment. This misalignment is usually due to injury or trauma to the foot and can occur gradually with time or rapidly with an acute injury. You may experience discomfort and pain on the edge of your foot as well as the central areas. The pain is often misdiagnosed due to the complexity of the structures in the foot.
Cuboid syndrome occurs in all populations and ages, but is more common in athletes and dancers. Let's consider symptoms, causes, and treatments further.
Common Symptoms of Cuboid Syndrome
Symptoms are usually experienced on the outer or lateral side of the foot, midway between the toes and the heel. Your symptoms can be aggravated with standing or physical activity, while pain is reduced once strain has been taken off your feet.
The symptoms of cuboid syndrome are as follows:
Dull pain with gradual onset in the foot or sharp, acute pain Reduced ability to bear weight on the footReduced range of motion in the foot and/or anklePain around the outer side of your foot towards the ankle Swelling or bruising associated with acute injury Sensitivity on the underside of the central foot
Causes and Risk Factors of Cuboid Syndrome
The causes of cuboid syndrome vary from altered foot biomechanics as seen in flat feet, to overuse and acute injuries that are associated with activities that place great strain on the feet. Therefore, trail runners, dancers, gymnasts, and basketball players commonly experience cuboid syndrome.
Running, jumping, or physical activities with side-to-side motions can lead to a shift in the cuboid bone and cause misalignment over time. You will feel discomfort when conducting physical activities. This will get progressively worse as you continue physical activity on a daily basis, but rest will alleviate the symptoms.
Altered Foot Biomechanics
Altered foot biomechanics, as seen in people with flat feet, is a common cause of cuboid syndrome. When you place weight onto the area of the foot where the arch would normally be, it increases the load placed onto the underside of the foot.
Inward Ankle Sprains
In severe cases of inward ankle sprains, the cuboid bone in the foot can be shifted during the impact, because the medial ligaments of the ankle are compromised due to a misstep or twisting action to the ankle. Repetitive ankle sprains can cause an increase in the shift of the cuboid bone and therefore increase pain.
The risk factors for developing this syndrome are as follows:
Ligament laxity Being overweight Partaking in activities with repetitive jumping or changing direction Wearing shoes with inadequate support, such as high heels Running on uneven surfacesNot giving your body enough rest between activities
Treatment of Cuboid Syndrome
The treatment of cuboid syndrome involves giving yourself adequate rest between training sessions or physical activities. This will allow localized swelling in the area to subside and reduce your overall experience of symptoms.
Modifying your activity routine is extremely helpful in preventing this condition from progressively getting worse. Refrain from continuing to engage in activities that may aggravate your symptoms and aim to reduce the duration or intensity of your physical exercise if cuboid symptoms are forthcoming.
Ice can be applied to the underside of the foot in an effort to reduce pain and inflammation in the area.
Orthotics are well documented to provide relief and support to the foot, showing good results over various population groups. For cuboid syndrome, acquiring orthotics with specific padding under the midfoot, where the cuboid bone is located, works to maintain or elevate the arch of the foot, and limit excess supination of the foot. Orthotics can further be used to manage other conditions that you may be experiencing such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, and burning feet syndrome.
Recovery From Cuboid Syndrome
Full recovery from cuboid syndrome requires 4-8 weeks, bearing in mind the severity of the initial injury and whether the ankle joint is involved in the injury. In cases where cuboid syndrome has been caused by minor events, it should take a couple of days to notice a change in your symptoms.
Attending physical therapy is extremely helpful in strengthening the muscles of the foot and lower leg, balance retraining, and exercise prescription in an effort to prevent the condition from returning in the future, or progressively worsening.
Cuboid syndrome is caused by a misalignment of the cuboid bone in the foot because of an injury and can cause severe pain. The symptoms, causes, and risk factors discussed in this article will help you identify cuboid syndrome, however, always be aware of the risks of self-diagnosis. Contact a medical professional should you not be able to walk or if the levels of pain are severe. Make sure to take the recovery process and time seriously to prevent the condition from returning or worsening. Foot exercisesThe Amazing Benefits of Rolling Out Your FeetRolling out your feet is considered a safe, cost-effective, and conservative method to manage pain that develops on the underside of your feet. Pain and discomfort can set in when the muscles and fascia, making up the sole or plantar side of your foot, become irritated or inflamed from overuse.
Let's consider the benefits of foot rolling in more detail as well as investigate an effective technique to employ.
8 Benefits of Foot Rolling
1. Relieves Foot Pain
Rolling out the fascia and tissues comprising the underside of your feet is beneficial for reducing tension, preventing calcium crystal formation, and alleviating inflamed muscles within the sole of the foot. Regular foot rolling is particularly beneficial if you suffer from plantar fasciitis, because it effectively manages the inflammation and pain associated with this condition.
2. Improves Foot Mobility
Tension in your intrinsic foot muscles may be contributing to your feet functioning ineffectively. Your feet may feel discomfort or sensitive, because the nerve structures in the muscles are compressed and are becoming irritated. Rolling out your foot will give the neural structures in the foot space to move freely, without becoming aggravated. This will improve the overall function of the foot, playing a crucial role in injury prevention.
3. Prevents Injury
It's important for your foot muscles to function effectively to prevent injury to the foot itself, the ankle, and the rest of your legs while partaking in sporting activities. Additionally, problems you have experienced with your lower back could be alleviated with the restoration of normal biomechanics, starting in the feet.
4. Improves Circulation
It's helpful to apply pressure to the sole of your foot, because it improves circulation in the feet by moving blood out of the feet and back into the circulatory system. This has also been shown to improve tissue healing.
5. Improves Balance
By rolling out your feet and thereby restoring normal function in the muscles and structures, your balance will improve and further reduce your risk of developing injuries in the future.
6. Reduces Stress
Using a ball to roll out your feet is an effective way to reduce tension rising from pressure points in the feet. You can target these trigger points with a massage ball in an effort to alleviate tension and stress.
7. Improves Overall Function
The improved mobility in your feet will have a ripple effect on the rest of the body, allowing for more efficient movement from the lower leg complex. It will take the strain off other areas of the legs that are currently working harder during physical activities such as walking or running activities.
8. Improves Sleep
If you're experiencing increased pain levels at night, it can cause poor sleep quality, especially after vigorous sporting activities. Foot rolling focused on targeting pressure points on a daily basis will improve your pain levels at night, allowing you to get a restful night's sleep.
How to Roll Your Feet Out With a Ball
Acquire a ball, particularly a tennis ball for plantar fasciitis exercises, to carry out the technique. A frozen water bottle can also be used. You can start in a sitting position, placing the ball under the mid-foot area.Apply gentle and controlled pressure to the underside of the foot using the ball. Gently apply a force downwards onto the ball, avoiding high levels of pain or a sharp stabbing sensation of pain. You can start with downward pressure in a localized spot, targeting the trigger point areas of the foot for maximum relief. Repeat 6 times and relax. The amount of repetitions isn’t fixed and the technique can be adjusted to your personal preferences. You can then progress to making longitudinal and circular motions with the ball. This will target the fascia on the underside of the foot. You can repeat this 8-10 times along the entire foot. Be sure to target the heel area and the muscles of the forefoot for maximal relief. Repeat on both feet.
Many people have found great benefit from rolling out their feet on a regular basis, from athletes to people who have developed foot pain from everyday use. You can find the same relief from your symptoms through regular rolling. You can also combine this with other techniques to rebuild the arches in your feet and fix overpronated feet and overpronated ankles. TreatmentsRecommended Treatments for Reversible Peripheral NeuropathyNeuropathy is the altered sensation (numbness, burning, tingling) and pain caused by nerve damage or dysfunction. Neuropathy occurs frequently and is one of the common causes of burning heels.
An estimated 25% to 30% of Americans have neuropathic symptoms. Neuropathy typically affects the extremities (hands and feet) and is therefore a significant cause of foot pain. Neuropathy must be treated before it leads to permanent nerve damage.
Depending on the cause, it may also be reversible. Apart from its idiopathic cause, other possible causes of neuropathy include diabetes causing burning feet, direct trauma, medications, poisoning, inherited and autoimmune disorders, alcoholism, abnormal vitamin levels, and vascular problems.
Let’s consider some of the reversible causes of neuropathy in more detail and possible ways to treat them.
Causes of Neuropathy That Can Be Reversed
Current research evidence suggests that nerve damage is partly reversible. While this doesn't apply to all causes of nerve damage, some can be reversed before they cause permanent nerve damage. These causes include:
Vitamin deficiency: Appropriate levels of vitamins E, B1, B3, B6, and B12 are necessary for healthy nerves. Neuropathy occurs when there is a deficiency. By increasing your vitamin uptake and meeting the recommended minimum levels, neuropathy reverses.Alcoholism: Chronic alcoholism depletes thiamine levels and other essential nutrients necessary for healthy nerve function. Reducing alcohol consumption before it causes permanent nerve damage can also cause neuropathy to reverse.Infection: Certain infections like chicken pox and shingles cause neuropathy. If the infection is brought under control quickly, reversing neuropathy becomes possible.Tumor: Where neuropathy is due to nerve compression by a tumor, removal of the tumor will relieve the neuropathy and cause a reversal.
How to Treat Reversible Peripheral Neuropathy
Home remedies for burning feet may help in minimizing the symptoms of neuropathy. For example, those with diabetic neuropathy will find relief as they gain control over their blood sugar levels. However, when it comes to reversing neuropathy, it may take more than regular treatment.
Treatments you can administer at home include:
Medication: Several nerve supplements or drugs to treat underlying medical conditions may cause neuropathic pain relief. Medication work best in concert with other treatment approaches.Dietary changes: Where neuropathy results from nutritional deficiency, a dietician may recommend an eating plan incorporating meals that will improve your nerve health. Physical therapy: A physiotherapist can prescribe stretching and strengthening exercises that help address discomfort and stiffness relating to neuropathic pain.
Treatments a doctor can administer include:
Cortisone injections: Using ultrasound, you can deliver cortisone injections directly to the location of nerve injury resulting in relief.Laser therapy: Laser therapy can trigger the healing of nerves and even tissue regeneration. It can also reduce nerve swelling and increase the flow of oxygen and nutrients to any affected nerve.Nerve ablation: Using radio frequencies, you can target specific nerve fibers and bundles causing neuropathic pain with an electric current. The electric current effectively shuts off signals from that specific nerve causing neuropathic pain while the rest continue to function appropriately.Surgery: Surgery may be necessary to decompress a pinched or irritated nerve. The reason for the compression may be a tumor, a herniated disc, or even a fractured bone. Nerve decompression restores normal nerve function and is essential as long as permanent damage has not occurred to the nerve.
It's worthwhile to note that no single treatment approach will work for everyone. Treatment must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. However, for most people, combining methods is the best way to treat neuropathic pain and to get quick results before complete nerve damage occurs.
When Should You See a Doctor for Peripheral Neuropathy?
If you notice any tingling or burning sensation in your hands or feet, you must seek prompt medical attention. Always be cautious of self-diagnosis. Neuropathy may signal a debilitating condition, so prompt diagnosis and treatment remain the best option for managing it.
Your medical provider will help you determine the reason for the pain, any underlying causes, and the best line of treatment.
Neuropathy is reversible, provided there is no permanent damage to the nerve yet. While paying attention to the reversible causes of neuropathy, also pay attention to the possible treatments. You can start with the home remedies, but also seek advice from your healthcare provider on other treatments. By doing this, you will not only curb your pain but improve your quality of life.
BackHow to Identify the Unmissable Signs Your Sciatica Is HealingNobody likes being in pain. Not sciatica pain. Though not a condition, sciatica is pain resulting from the inflammation, irritation, or compression of the sciatic nerve at its roots or along its course. It causes pain in the lower limbs. The pain can be merely aching, or it can be burning and excruciating.
Sciatica is a major cause of pain in the leg, usually in only one leg. However, it can sometimes manifest in both legs, depending on the level of the nerve injury or irritation. Sometimes, it may even be the cause of foot pain after running. A Harvard paper suggests that up to 40% of people experience sciatica at some point during their lifetime.
The good news is you can recover from sciatica with treatment. Most people will recover from sciatica by caring for their symptoms themselves within a few weeks. The not-so-good news is that it won't go away by itself. If you don't commence treatment early enough, sciatica can become chronic and take longer to heal.
In this article, we consider how you know your sciatica is healing, if there's a permanent cure, and how long recovery from sciatica pain takes.
Signs Your Sciatica Is Getting Better
Unlike pain elsewhere, reduced severity is not the primary way to know if there is an improvement. Instead, you must consider the extent of your radiating pain.
Remember that sciatica causes radiating pain from the lower back down one leg (to every muscle supplied directly or indirectly by the sciatica nerve). With improvement, the pain begins to retreat backwards, a phenomenon known as centralization.
As the pain retraces backwards, the severity of the pain in the lower back or buttocks can increase. The more centralized the pain becomes around the spine, the surer you can be that improvement is taking place.
How Long Does Sciatic Nerve Pain Normally Last?
Sciatica doesn’t resolve on its own. Without treatment, it worsens and can lead to excruciating pain. However, with self-care, it may take 4 to 6 weeks for acute sciatic nerve pain to resolve.
At this stage, pain is intermittent, radiates down the leg, and causes altered sensations such as numbness and tingling in the lower limbs. Self-care treatment includes using hot and cold compresses, exercises, and over-the-counter drugs.
If the pain lasts longer than six weeks, it's termed chronic sciatica and requires more targeted treatment. The pain is more constant, and there may be associated weakness in the leg. Also, the risk of recurrence is higher when sciatica becomes chronic.
Treatment involves combining home remedies with medical management: physiotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and pharmacologic management. Surgery is also another option, provided symptoms don’t improve with regular treatment.
Can Sciatica Be Cured Permanently?
The fact that the symptoms of sciatica get resolved doesn't mean it's gone permanently. The possibility of recurrence is a major risk of self-diagnosis. You must understand that sciatica has many causes and mimics many other kinds of back pain, such as flat feet causing back pain. Without an accurate diagnosis, the treatment will be general. One study suggests that symptoms may persist for up to twelve months, even with treatment.
Identifying the underlying cause is essential because it will influence the treatment. If a general treatment approach is used, both the risk of recurrence and the recovery time increase.
That said, surgery may very well be the only method that guarantees a permanent recovery since it focuses on the root cause. That's why the type of surgery also depends on the exact cause of sciatica. In any case, it's essential to consult your medical provider to determine the underlying cause of sciatica and the best line of treatment.
While there may be no permanent cure for sciatica, you can limit sciatica recurrence by strengthening your core and back muscles and maintaining a good posture when sitting, lifting, or standing. Maintaining a healthy weight can also reduce pressure on your back and prevent future sciatica flare-ups. Lastly, wearing supportive shoes and using orthotics for back pain can prevent the recurrence of sciatica. Achilles tendonitisAchilles Tendinopathy vs. Tendonitis: Differences and DefinitionsTendinopathy and tendonitis are two types of Achilles tendon pain and are often confused as their symptoms are extremely similar, and the injury occurs in the same region. Both conditions cause pain at the insertion point of the tendon or along the length of the tendon and are associated with exercise exertion.
However, they are two different conditions with several distinctions. Where tendinopathy is a breakdown of the protein fibers making up the tendon, tendonitis refers to inflammation of the tendon.
What Is Tendinopathy?
Achilles tendinopathy is characterized by the degeneration of the collagen fibers that make up the tendon. Micro-tears in the fibers are often caused by overexertion or repetitive strain on the tendon through running or jumping activities. This condition points to a tissue disorder, namely repetitive damage to the tendon, which fails to heal adequately.
This condition also commonly occurs in the shoulder, elbow, and wrist. With time and rest, the symptoms usually subside. In severe cases, where adequate time for collagen fiber healing has not taken place, severe injury or rupture can occur to the tendon due to the ongoing breakdown of the collagen fibers. Surgical intervention is then required to manage the condition effectively.
What Is Tendonitis?
Tendonitis, especially in the Achilles tendon, is marked by pain and inflammation in the tendon. The tendon becomes irritated and can feel painful due to the regular and repetitive strain placed on the Achilles tendon from walking or running. Point tenderness, warmth, and swelling over the inflamed tendon are common. Pain is associated with Achilles tendonitis and is commonly caused by activity and exertion as well.
Achilles tendonitis usually occurs at the insertion point of the tendon with the calcaneus bone, known as insertional Achilles tendonitis. This is the likely spot for pain and discomfort to occur.
Differences Between Tendinopathy and Tendonitis
Running on hard surfacesRepetitive running or jumping activitiesCalcium deposits in the tendonHigh loads out through the tendonHeel bone spursPoor lower leg and ankle biomechanics
Sudden injury to the tendon, usually as a result of high loadsRepetitive movements that place strain on the tendonPoor posture and lower leg biomechanics
Pain or a burning sensation in the Achilles tendonDifficulty moving the joint due to stiffness and associated painMuscle weaknessPain in the area when rising onto the toesSwelling notes in the area of the Achilles tendonIn severe cases, reduced mobility and high levels of pain
Pain or discomfort at the insertion point of the Achilles tendon or in the middle of the tendon fibersSwelling in the areaPain when touching the inflamed areaBony prominence forming on the heel boneStiffness in the tendon and ankle jointIn severe cases, reduced mobility due to painIn severe cases, high levels of pain are associated with damage to the fibers of the tendon
The treatment goals for both conditions are to reduce inflammation and pain and improve overall mobility. The following are the primary treatment strategies:
Applying ice to the affected area effectively reduces inflammation during the acute phases of pain.
Wearing orthotics in your shoes can be very helpful in combating the symptoms arising from these conditions. Orthotic insoles support the foot and ankle while distributing the weight evenly through the entire foot, lessening the strain on the Achilles tendon.
Stretching the calf muscle is another excellent way to manage both conditions and prevent them from worsening.
Achilles Tendon Exercises
Exercises for the Achilles tendon are beneficial in strengthening the tendon's fibers and muscles around the area for increased stability. Heel raises, resistance TheraBand exercises, and range of motion exercises are all helpful in managing this condition effectively. Exercises should only be done if there is no pain in the heel area.
Not overexerting yourself or doing too much too soon is vital to prevent exacerbating the problem. When running with Achilles tendonitis, it's advised to start slowly with minimal exertion and gradually increase the amount of exercise you do. Allow time for your body to recover from exercise sessions to avoid injuring the tendons and causing unwanted symptoms.
In combination with orthotics and stretching, rest can effectively prevent Achilles tendonitis and tendinopathy. Gently massaging the Achilles tendon can help align the tendon's healing collagen fibers. Massage can be applied lengthways along the tendon for maximum benefit. Achilles tendonitisInsertional Achilles Tendonitis: Causes, Symptoms, and TreatmentInsertional Achilles tendonitis, a type of Achilles tendonitis, refers to inflammation at the point where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel bone. The fibers of the tendon become inflamed, leading to Achilles tendon pain and reduced mobility in severe cases.
Achilles tendonitis left untreated over a lengthy period can lead to chronic Achilles tendonitis and persistent pain. Insertional Achilles tendonitis requires suitable treatment, as it doesn't go away by itself.
Insertional Achilles Tendonitis vs. Non-Insertional Achilles Tendonitis
There are two types of Achilles tendonitis:
Insertional Achilles tendonitis
As the name suggests, this type of tendonitis occurs at the insertion point of the Achilles tendon with the heel bone. In some cases, the heel bone may protrude outwards.Non-insertional Achilles tendonitis
This affects the middle fibers of the Achilles tendon and is commonly seen in younger people who are physically active.
Causes of Insertional Achilles Tendonitis
Overusing the tendon through various activities is the leading cause of insertional Achilles tendonitis. This condition is common in those that are not physically active.
Heel spurs (bony projections into the soft tissue around the heel) are also a common cause of developing Achilles tendonitis. Discomfort arises when the bony projection grows to a point where agitation of the soft tissue occurs.
Additionally, heel bursitis commonly occurs alongside insertional Achilles tendonitis.
Symptoms of Insertional Achilles Tendonitis
The symptoms of insertional tendonitis are directly linked to the amount of repetitive stress placed on the tendon and include:
Pain at the base of the Achilles tendon, with sensitivity to touchSwelling at the attachment siteStiffness in the ankle or feeling in the tendonDevelopment of a prominent heel bone in some casesPain when stretching the Achilles tendon
Continued exercise without activity modification will exacerbate your symptoms.
Treating Insertional Achilles Tendonitis
Prevention of Achilles tendonitis is always better than treatment; however, it is not always possible. That being said, treatment of insertional Achilles tendonitis is usually conservative in mild cases of the condition, while surgery is considered in severe cases. A complete rupture of the Achilles tendon will definitely require surgery.
Non-surgical management strategies are preferred in most cases, including:
Take some time to rest from exercises or activities that may cause flare-ups. If pain is worsened by exercise, stop the activity immediately and allow time for the tendon fibers to repair themselves.
Only resume physical activity when pain has subsided entirely for about six weeks or under the advice of a medical professional. Then, gradually increase activity and limit the duration and intensity until you are fully accustomed. Failing to do this may cause another flare-up of Achilles tendonitis, which will be even worse the second time.
Anti-inflammatory medication can be extremely helpful in managing the symptoms of those conditions in the acute phase.
Applying ice to the area is important in reducing inflammation in the tendon and lessening your pain and swelling. Ice can be applied for 15–20 minutes at a time, several times a day, and is usually recommended in the acute phase for the first two days.
An orthotic with a slight heel raise can be beneficial in reducing the tension placed on the tendon while on your feet. Orthotics for Achilles tendonitis help alleviate your symptoms, prevent ongoing pain, and limit complications arising in the future.
How long you have to wear orthotics will depend on your individual condition; however, it is usually a long-term treatment.
Gently stretch the length of the leg from the calf muscle to the Achilles tendon, allowing the collagen fibers to heal in correct alignment. Stretching can be done on a step, in various yoga poses, or against a wall. Hold the stretch for 20–30 seconds to allow the tissue to lengthen, provided there is no heel pain when stretching.
A physical therapist can provide you with a treatment strategy to target this condition, using various treatment modalities and exercise therapy for your Achilles tendon. Your physical therapist can advise you on whether it is safe to return to sporting or exercise activities without the risk of worsening the condition.
Does Insertional Achilles Tendonitis Heal Permanently?
In mild forms of the condition, rest in combination with conservative treatments can alleviate symptoms of this condition entirely. Severe cases may become chronic and lead to the lengthy, ongoing presence of symptoms that might require more drastic treatment methods.
Even with the correct treatment, recovery from insertional Achilles tendonitis is a very slow process, taking six months to a year to heal fully. Once the Achilles tendon has been injured, there is a greater likelihood of developing further tendon injuries in the future, so you should take precautionary measures. Achilles tendonitisPreventing Achilles Tendonitis: 5 Strategies That Are Vital to KnowAchilles tendonitis is a common cause of pain in the lower limbs, especially among runners. The condition occurs when the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed and is often associated with overuse.
There are means to treat this type of Achilles tendon pain, but prevention is far better. Unfortunately, complete prevention of Achilles tendonitis may be impossible. What you can do is reduce your chances of developing this foot condition.
5 Ways to Prevent Achilles Tendonitis
There are several ways to help prevent Achilles tendonitis in runners, which include:
Ensure you warm up properly to prep your muscles for action before any activity. It helps to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of the exercise or training.Wearing the right shoes
Always choose the most sports-appropriate shoes or simple shoes with proper arch support and cushioning. These properties will reduce strain on the Achilles tendon.
You can insert orthotics for Achilles tendonitis in your shoes. Such insoles will provide firm arch support and extra cushioning, reducing pressure on the foot. One orthotic device that is particularly effective is a heel cup to help Achilles tendonitis.Exercising regularly
Exercises for tendonitis are essential. Your range of exercises should include stretching and strengthening exercises for the calf muscles and plyometric and balance exercises for the body. They’ll help you better manage the strain that comes with your activities. Cross-training
Alternate between high-impact activities, like running and jumping, and low-impact activities such as cycling and swimming, to give your body room to adapt and accommodate the strain.Close monitoring
Watch how you exercise when you’re on medication like fluoroquinolones.
Risk Factors for Achilles Tendonitis
You should be extra vigilant if you have any of the risk factors below that predispose you to the condition.
Some of the main risk factors include:
It is most common in males.Age
It occurs more frequently in people who are 30 and older.Physical or structural problems
Tight or weak calf muscles, flat feet, heel spurs, and excess body weight can all contribute to an increased risk of Achilles tendonitis.Medical conditions
Conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and psoriasis can increase your risk.Medications
Those taking fluoroquinolones (a type of antibiotic) are at a greater risk of developing Achilles tendonitis.Improper training
Inadequate warm-up, cold weather, inappropriate footwear, training on uneven surfaces, and sudden increase in exercise intensity can predispose you to Achilles tendonitis.
Signs and Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis
Quick management and treatment of Achilles tendonitis are essential to avoid unnecessary complications. To do this, you need to recognize the first signs and symptoms of injury.
The following are common symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis:
Mild, aching pain above the heel is a cardinal sign of Achilles tendonitis. The pain is typically palpable but worsens with activities. Warmth, swelling, stiffness, soreness, and thickening of the Achilles tendonLimited range of motion, causing difficulty walking and standing on your toesThere may also be heel spur formation with insertional tendonitis (injury of the Achilles tendon at its point of attachment to the heel bone).
Ensure you consult a medical practitioner for an accurate diagnosis and treatment advice as soon as you notice any of these signs or symptoms.
Complications Associated With Achilles Tendonitis
Achilles tendonitis can lead to complications if not managed early enough. Again, running with Achilles tendonitis can often worsen the condition.
Some of the possible complications of Achilles tendonitis are:
Achilles tendon rupture
Tendonitis weakens the Achilles tendon, making it prone to a rupture. You may have ruptured the Achilles tendon if you experience any of the symptoms above, along with a sudden pop in your calf or heel. An Achilles tendon rupture is a medical emergency and may need surgery to correct.Abnormal gait
Achilles tendonitis makes movement difficult, and the heel pain may change your posture. Over time, if the pain is not well managed, the adjusted posture may become your default, leading to an abnormal gait.Nodules
If the tendon degeneration progresses, nodules may begin to form in the heel.
Achilles tendonitis can take weeks to months to heal, so it's best to address it in its early stages of development, long before it becomes a problem. You can position yourself for a healthier and safer experience as you run by training and exercising appropriately.
Remember to consult your healthcare professional to ascertain the best line of treatment and to recommend additional treatment approaches if need be.
OrthoticsGet Your Orthotics Covered By Insurance With These Easy StepsOrthotics are custom-fitted inserts designed to cushion and support the foot while redistributing energy during motion. They limit excess movement and realign foot joints when standing or walking. Orthotics are prescribed to treat different foot conditions, including diabetic neuropathy, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, overpronation, and many others.
Orthotics are made by a podiatrist who conducts a foot evaluation so the orthotic can be custom-fitted to the foot. Where a physical assessment is not possible, the podiatrist can send a foot impression kit.
Orthotics come at a cost, usually between $200 and $800. While they are effective, they are pricey, especially custom orthotics.
Does Insurance Cover Orthotics?
Fortunately, you can get partial or full reimbursement for what you spend on orthotics.
Many health benefit plans include coverage for specific medical conditions and treatments, including orthotics. These plans provide either partial or complete coverage for custom orthotics obtained with a doctor’s prescription.
It’s always best to check the specific details of an insurance plan to understand its limitations and just how much coverage it will give you. Only then should you choose an insurance plan, especially when obtaining coverage for orthotics.
What Is Required for Insurance Coverage for Orthotics?
Orthotics can eliminate the need for long-term dependency on medication, physical therapy, or surgery. Consequently, many insurance plans consider orthotics as therapeutic medical devices and provide coverage.
For example, the Flexible Savings Account (FSA) provides full insurance coverage. Others like Medicare pay 80% of the cost while you have to cover the rest. However, the specific requirements for insurance coverage for orthotics depend on your health benefit plan.
Generally, orthotics are covered if:
They are considered medically necessary and prescribed to treat a diagnosed medical condition covered under the health benefit plan.The orthotics are prescribed by a qualified medical practitioner for protection, support, pain relief, and body alignment.The insurance contract specifically covers orthotics.They are made from the appropriate material, which is often pre-specified in your plan.
You can check your health benefits package on your insurance provider's website to find out the specifics of their coverage based on your package. For instance, with the FSA and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRA), you are eligible for reimbursement when you pay for orthotics and insoles out of pocket.
So, you can use the FSA or HRA to buy custom orthotics whenever you buy an insole, as long as you have an active account. All you need to do is provide the purchase receipt on request. The type of orthotic and its price, quality, and material don't matter as long as you can present the receipt showing your payment details.
How to Get Covered by Insurance
To get insurance coverage for your orthotics, you naturally need to be covered by a health benefits plan.
The following steps are involved in this process:
First, you have to research different plans and what they cover. Ideally, you want to choose a plan that provides coverage for custom orthotics. You also want to find how many orthotics your plan covers per year.Then you'll need to select the most suitable insurance provider to factor in details about premiums, claims verification, etc. You should get underwritten to determine your baselines and be eligible to receive coverage for some medical expenses. If your provider isn’t satisfied with your baselines, they may send you a new quote with a higher premium to pay.It’s best that you confirm the specifics of your insurance plan with your insurance provider. Lastly, you’ll need to choose your beneficiaries and begin paying your premiums based on your pre-specified agreement.
The following are usually necessary to get your orthotics covered by insurance:
A diagnosis from a podiatrist or foot care specialistA prescription for a custom orthotic from a qualified professionalA description of the raw materials used to make the orthoticsDetails about the casting methodA biomechanical gait analysis reportA list of dates for the foot examThe orthotics order dateA transaction receipt or payment evidence
Apart from the first two items that the medical practitioner provides, custom orthotic providers like Upstep will make the rest available on demand if you are looking to buy custom orthotics online. Ensure you tender a request upon purchase of your orthotics. Achilles tendonitisHeel Pain: How Achilles Tendonitis and Plantar Fasciitis DifferAchilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis are two common causes of pain in the foot and are frequently confused. This is because they both cause pain in the heels, with similar symptoms that worsen when weight is placed on the leg and foot.
However, there is a stark difference between these conditions. Chief among these differences is the location of pain and the aggravating factors.
Let’s find out more about each condition and how they compare.
What Is Achilles Tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis is a chronic overuse injury of the Achilles tendon—the band of tissue that links the calf muscles to the heel bone. It is caused by placing excess strain on the Achilles tendon. Depending on where the strain occurs, you can have insertional tendonitis or non-insertional Achilles tendonitis.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia—the band of connective tissue that runs from the ball of the foot to the heel.
Differences Between Achilles Tendonitis and Plantar Fasciitis
Although Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis both cause heel pain, there are vast differences between the two based on their causes, presentation of symptoms, treatment, and recovery.
Achilles tendonitis is caused by excess strain from being overweight or a sudden increase in intensity and duration of exercises and other physical activities. It may also be due to training with improper shoes, on uneven surfaces, or without warmup. Being overweight, male, and over 30 can also increase your risk of developing Achilles tendonitis.
Plantar fasciitis occurs as a result of prolonged strain on the feet from overuse or overstretching of the fascia. Plantar fasciitis is a major cause of pain in the heel.
Achilles tendonitis causes sharp, aching pain around the heel bone. Related symptoms like tenderness, swelling, loss of range of motion, and tight or weak calf muscles may also occur.
Plantar fasciitis causes a stabbing pain in the heel. The pain is often restricted to the area around the heel, although it may also spread to the toes.
While Achilles tendon pain is most intense during activity, plantar fasciitis causes the most pain immediately after rest or activity.
The main reason you need to accurately determine if you have Achilles tendonitis or plantar fasciitis is that the ways to treat and manage the conditions differ.
With Achilles tendonitis, home treatments (rest, ice, use of NSAIDs, etc.) can help with pain relief. However, exercise (strengthening, balance, and plyometric exercises) and activity modification are the most effective management methods. Exercises aim to improve the strength of the calf muscles. Orthotics that are placed under the heel can also be used.
Similarly, plantar fasciitis can be managed with home treatment and other conservative treatment approaches. It differs, however, as the exercises aim to stretch the foot arch, and insoles will offer arch support. Shock wave therapy can also be used to stimulate the healing of damaged tissues.
For both conditions, if there is no improvement despite conservative management, surgery may be necessary.
Once either condition is diagnosed, it is best to begin intervention immediately as both conditions can lead to back, hip, and knee problems. They can also cause gait abnormality and lead to several other complications.
Full recovery after Achilles tendonitis will take 3–12 months, even with surgery.
The healing time for plantar fasciitis is faster with surgery (3–4 months) but longer (6–18 months) without surgery.
Can You Have Achilles Tendonitis and Plantar Fasciitis at the Same Time?
Despite all the differences between the two conditions, you can suffer both simultaneously. In fact, it is called plantar tendonitis when both conditions occur together.
The interrelationship is not surprising, as both structures work together to ensure forward motion. For example, tight calf muscles will make the Achilles tendon taut. A tight Achilles will strain the plantar fascia as the pull will transfer from the Achilles tendon to the fascia.
Orthotics for plantar fasciitis and orthotic insoles for Achilles tendonitis present an excellent way to manage both conditions. These orthotics must possess a firm but cushioned arch support to protect the heel and reduce the strain on the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia. So even if you have both Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis concurrently, custom orthotics can help improve both conditions immediately.