Factors That Can Delay Recovery from Plantar Heel Pain;
The recovery time for plantar heel pain is varied. It depends on different factors that affect the rate of tissue healing.
- The Extent of Tissue Damage (Acute or Chronic)
- Age, Body Weight, and Chronic Illness
- Types of activity and Occupation
In general, it can vary from a few days if treated early to a few years if left untreated for a period of time.
The Extent of Tissue Damage (Acute)
The rule of thumb for acute pain is the duration of pain is equal to the duration of recovery time. For example, if the pain started a week ago, the degeneration of the ligament has not progressed much. Therefore the recovery period will generally be shorter.
The Extent of Tissue Damage (Chronic)
On the contrary, chronic plantar heel pain can take some time to heal. This can often frustrate individuals, especially those significantly affected by the pain. This is because plantar heel pain is associated with collagen degeneration. Repairing collagen occurs at a much slower rate compared to muscle and bone.
The severity of the injury to the plantar fascia will also affect the recovery time. This can be assessed by imaging such as ultrasound.
In general, the greater the inflammation and injury to the plantar fascia, the longer it will take to fully recover. Additionally, the presence of a tear in the plantar fascia will also prolong recovery time.
Age, Body Weight, and Chronic Illness
It is known that individuals with heavier weights have more stress on their feet which will impact recovery times.
Age will also play a role in recovery. The older we get the longer injuries can take to heal. This can be due to a reduction in circulation to the feet and immunity.
Individuals who are suffering from a chronic illness may also have delayed recovery time. This is because the immune system is not functioning properly and certain medications can delay tissue healing, such as steroids.
Activity and Occupation
Returning to high load activity too quickly or spending long times standing on hard surfaces at work, can delay recovery times. Especially when compared to those that follow a return to load program and have a desk job.
Factors That Can Improve Recovery from Plantar Heel Pain;
- Appropriate Footwear
- Customised Foot Orthotics
- Manual Therapies
- Shockwave Therapy
- Strength and conditioning program
- Shoes that are supportive and provide cushioning often reduce the duration needed for the heel pain to heal. Shoes with a stiffer forefoot sole will also reduce strain on the plantar fascia band and aid in recovery.
Customised Foot Orthotics
Can improve recovery time as it aims to provide the foot with the support it needs. Orthotics offload high-pressure areas that contribute to tissue stress and heel pain. Orthotics that improve arch function help to reduce strain through the plantar fascia.
Treatments such as foot mobilisation, tool-assisted massage, and dry needling all help to address biomechanical issues that are a contributing factor to heel pain. This includes ankle mobility, and tight and weak calf and foot muscles.
If you are suffering from heel pain it is not a case of ignoring it until it goes away. Most heel pain that is left untreated will lead to increase pain. Over time this will affect mobility, as exercise and walking become increasingly difficult, leading to other compounding health concerns.
Strength and Conditioning
A return to load program and strengthening program for the core, glutes, and lower limbs muscles are essential for recovery. Individuals who are vigilant and progressive with their program will have better long-term results.
At Well Heeled Podiatry we have experience in dealing with acute and chronic heel pain. We will provide you with a diagnosis and specific treatment plan to get you feeling confident on your feet again.