Do custom orthotics really work to cure plantar fasciitis pain? The following story shares living proof that they can and did in Neil’s case.
Article by Neil – founder of TopTipsForHolidays.com
I had never had any problems with my feet until I went on a walking holiday in the French Alps in the summer of 2000. I came back from that holiday with what I found out later to be Plantar Fasciitis.
We were staying in a village called Le Cluzas in the Haute-Savoie region.
Overworking My Feet on Holiday
I bought some new walking boots at the start of the holiday, but I can’t blame the boots as they were comfortable and supportive from the start. Looking back I think it may have been just overuse of feet that weren’t used to walking on steep hills and repeatedly bending my toes into the hill as I walked up them which caused over-stretching of the plantar fascia.
When I got back from the holiday I could not get rid of the pain in my heels on both feet. Rest seemed to help a bit but did not cure the problem.
Injections, Orthotics and Home Therapy
I went to my doctor and was referred to a podiatric surgeon. After several consultations he administered cortisone steroid injections in both feet, which is possibly the most painful thing I have ever experienced. These helped for a while but still did not fully cure the pain.
However, the surgeon had suggested a couple of things I could try in addition to his treatment to help alleviate the symptoms.
Firstly, a plastic bottle full of water and frozen in the freezer. This I would roll under each foot for a few minutes a couple of times each day.
Second, I purchased some over the counter orthotics to insert into my shoes. My feet do over pronate (fallen arches) which puts undue strain on the tendons in the foot, but Orthotics do help to support your foot and keep it in a talar neutral position, which in turn means the tendons are under less strain.
Of the RICE method that Allyn talks about in Using the RICE Method for Heel Pain, I was using Rest, Ice and Elevation but did not use the Compression concept much. I did do quite a bit of research using what was available on the internet at the time to try to find anything that would help.
A Cure for Plantar Fasciitis Pain
None of what I was doing seemed to work to fully cure the pain until I found out about a podiatrist not too far from where I was living in London. He offered custom orthotics made specifically for each of my feet.
The process involved a machine which created a 3D map of each foot using low powered lasers and special computer software. From these maps technicians made an arch support for each foot manufactured from a hard plastic which I think was Kevlar. This was then covered in a comfortable soft foam material with a durable covering made to the size of my shoes.
I can honestly say that it was wearing these orthotics all the time and not walking around in bare feet in the house that help to cure my Plantar Fasciitis.
Once I was no longer getting pain I could be more active again including playing golf and running as long as I was wearing the orthotics in my shoes.
Renewing Custom Orthotics for Plantar Fasciitis Relief
Orthotics do wear out with use and require refurbishment every few years. Having moved to a different part of the country it was easier for me to get a brand new pair than try to get my existing orthotics refurbished. I found a local podiatrist and this time they used plaster casts to make moulds of my feet that the new orthotics could be manufactured from.
I have had my new ones a couple of years now and they are still helping to keep my feet pain free.
The one thing that still seems to cause pain is if I stand on my feet in one position for more than 30 minutes. But as long as I avoid situations requiring me to stand, I can get lead an active life uninterrupted by pain in my feet.
NOTE: Please be aware that I am not a medical person so the information above should not be taken as medical advice. If you are suffering from pain in your feet similar to that described in the above article you should seek proper medical advice through your doctor.
4 thoughts on “Do Custom Orthotics Really Work? – Neil’s Story”
I had plantar fasciitis a few years ago. So painful. I had to get orthodics for my shoes and was told to never go barefoot. I have never experienced that pain again.
I guess we need to look after our feet just like any other part of our body. We are going to be traveling this summer and doing long hikes. I will be taking orthodics for sure!
Great info, especially if you never had plantar fasciitis before.
I’m glad to hear you haven’t experienced plantar fasciitis pain again! One time is enough. I’ve read about so many who suffer with it for long periods of time. I cannot imagine what that would be like. In my case, heel cups have been very helpful, along with softer shoes.
Since you’ll be doing long hikes, you might also enjoy reading a guest post I wrote for Neil’s site. It’s called Things to Bring on Vacation – Choosing the Best Footwear.
Do you talk about the benefits of reflexology and massaging the calves for plantar fasciitis? If not, you should! These things are required for healthy feet and for healing unhealthy feet. Most doctors, podiatrists and chiropractors don’t teach their patients anything about self care. People need to be taught how to take care of themselves so that they can stay healthy.
Hi Yuu. I have added information about massaging the calves in Massage Self Treatment for Heel Pain Relief. I’ll be getting to reflexology later. You are right though. People need to be taught about self-care. That’s part of the reason for this site.
Thanks for your comments.