Crutches for Plantar Fasciitis: All You Need To Know!

Is your plantar fasciitis bothering you? Plantar fasciitis can hamper your daily lifestyle and can ruin your overall mood. However, you are not alone in this!

So, are you wondering if crutches for plantar fasciitis are the right choice?

Crutches may help people recover from plantar fasciitis and prevent worsening of the condition. However, for crutches to work, you need to learn proper maneuvering of crutches and be aware of possible problems associated with them.

If you are still confused, it’s okay! We have discussed the topic below. Read along to learn more about it.

Plantar Fasciitis: Background

Plantar fasciitis occurs when a ligament in your foot, called the plantar fascia, goes through continuous and excessive wear and tear. Your daily activities or sports activities that require the use of your feet may cause plantar fasciitis.

plantar-fasciitis

A common indication that you have plantar fasciitis is sharp or dull pain at the bottom of your feet or, more commonly, the heels. You may feel the pain is more intense right after you wake up or after intense physical exercises. 

The painful sensation may spread to your midfoot area over time. A common reason why plantar fasciitis goes unattended for a long time is that the pain usually comes and goes until the inflammation worsens. 

Some Remedies For Plantar Fasciitis

Although plantar fasciitis is not considered a serious condition, it can be a very uncomfortable experience. It is very normal for you to want to get rid of this condition desperately.

Luckily, there are several effective ways to ease your symptoms of plantar fasciitis.

Ice massage, anti-inflammatory medicines, stretching, athletic tapes, medical shoe inserts, night splints, physical therapy programs, sufficient resting and crutches can help you get relief from plantar fasciitis.

And among all these, crutches are used mostly by patients with plantar fasciitis.

How Can Crutches Help You?

To treat the unpleasant symptoms of plantar fasciitis, you will need to reduce the pressure you have been putting on your plantar fascia.

Whenever you walk, exercise, or do other activities involving your foot, the plantar fascia supports your foot and acts as a shock absorber. Crutches can help relieve the excessive pressure on your plantar fascia. Relieving the pressure will help reduce the inflammation plus other symptoms such as redness and tenderness of your heels.

crutches-for-plantar-fasciitis

Due to the use of crutches, the plantar fascia of your foot gets some rest from the continuous strain and gradually starts to heal.

Crutches mostly help you if you have a severe case of plantar fasciitis or suffer from unbearable pain around your heels whenever in a standing position by reducing the pressure on your foot. Moreover, lifting the weight of your foot can help you move around a little more comfortably until your pain and swelling recede.

You will also need to take the help of crutches or other walking aids after a surgical procedure for your plantar fasciitis, while recovering from a knee surgery or other lower body conditions.

Can Crutches Prevent the Worsening of Plantar Fasciitis?

Your plantar fasciitis can worsen if you leave it unattended for quite some time. Continuing to exert stress and strain on your plantar fascia can result in tiny tears in the ligament. The small tears will increase the possibility of having a plantar rupture.

Rupturing of the plantar fascia will significantly escalate your pain and swelling. Moreover, simply touching the ground with your foot may become extremely painful. 

Hence, taking the pressure of your inflamed plantar fascia before the condition worsens using mobility aids such as crutches is essential.

In addition,  if you already have a plantar rupture, you will need the help of crutches or other mobility aids.

Different Types of Crutches

Let us look into some different types of crutches to help us choose better.

  • Axillary crutches: These crutches are the traditional wooden or aluminium crutches with adjustable height. People who are prescribed crutches for 1-2 weeks commonly go for them.  
  • Forearm crutches: Forearm crutches are comparatively easier to navigate than axillary ones. Long term crutch users often go for them.
  • Gutter crutches: Gutter crutches are similar to forearm crutches but they have additional soft padded forearm supports. Patients with weak hand grip are prescribed gutter crutches.
  • Hands-free crutches: These crutches do not need the help of hands but are instead strapped around the thigh for support. Hands-free crutches were built to solve the problem of underarm nerve damage.
different-types-of-crutches

Your doctor can decide the type of crutch that would be most suitable for you.

How to Use Crutches for Plantar Fasciitis?

Now that you know how helpful crutches can be, let’s look into proper ways of using crutches. Commonly, people use the traditional and price-friendly forearm or underarm crutches for their plantar fasciitis. If you are new to using crutches, following the steps mentioned below may help you-

  • Place both crutches under your arms. Grip the crutch handles.
  • Put your weight on the good leg and keep your plantar fasciitis leg slightly off the floor
  • Move both your crutches forward (1 foot forward)
  • Next, move your affected leg forward  
  • Then move your good leg forward so that your good leg is slightly beyond your crutches
  • Again, advance your crutches and affected foot 
  • Repeat this cycle, first the crutches, then the affected foot, followed by the good foot.

These steps will help you put the least strain on your plantar fasciitis foot. However, there are other ways to use crutches. If both your feet have a severe plantar fasciitis condition, your doctor may suggest other walking aids.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you are still having difficulty using crutches.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • If you are using a single crutch, place the crutch on the arm opposite to the affected foot.
  • Use crutches such that the crutch pads are about 1.5-2 inches below your armpits.
  • Support your weight with your arms using the hand-grips  and not with your underarms.
  • Avoid wearing high heels while on crutches. Well fitted shoes like sneakers are your best option.
  • Do not carry baggage while on crutches.
  • Make sure your crutches got rubber tips.
  • Take small steps at one time to avoid tripping.
  • Place extra lights at your home to ensure safe moving around.
  • Clear away electrical cords out of your walkways.

How Long Do You Have to be on Crutches?

Your doctor can decide best, the duration you need to be on crutches. It is often instructed to use crutches for about 1-2 weeks. However, if you have a severe case of plantar fasciitis or have received surgical treatment, your doctor may suggest you stay on crutches for about 3-4 weeks.

In most cases, doctors do not suggest using crutches unless you have had surgery or have a chronic case of plantar fasciitis.

Problems While Using Crutches

Although crutches can help your foot to rest and heal quickly, it can be really uncomfortable to use them.

  • Problem- You may have sore armpits or, worse, crutch paralysis if you have been supporting most of your weight with your underarms.
    • Solution- Start using crutches in the right way. Put your weight on your upper body instead of underarms. Add extra padding to the armrests. Use well-fitted crutches. Tell your health care provider if you think your crutches are not a perfect size. 
  • Problem- You may experience, hand, rib or shoulder pain while using crutches; incorrect use of crutches may lead to these consequences.
    • Solution- Distribute your weight evenly between your arms, hands, and upper body. You are not using a well-fitted pair of crutches if you have to bend your body too much while walking.
  • Problem- It is not common to get injured from crutch use; however, it is possible to have accidental injuries from losing balance.
    • Solution- Before you start using crutches, learn to properly maneuvre crutches, especially in uneven surfaces like stairs. Consult and follow the instructions of your physical therapist in case of confusion.
  • Another drawback of using crutches is that you will not be able to do all kinds of activities such as running, taking part in your favorite sports, or carrying something when on crutches. 

Plantar Fasciitis: Other Treatments

Crutches are an affordable and easy solution to your plantar fasciitis. However, additional treatment approaches along with crutch use can help you recover faster. Some treatment options other than crutches are-

  • Ice bottle massage- Icing can alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. You just need to roll your foot over a frozen water can for about 15-20 minutes. Ask your health care provider if you need further tips on how to perform an ice bottle massage
  • Stretching- Regular stretching can help you manage your plantar fasciitis better. Toe stretches, calf stretches, arch stretches, and band stretches are common exercises that can help recover quicker and reduce re-injury chances.
  • Night splints- Night splints are devices that help reduce plantar fasciitis symptoms by keeping the plantar fascia in a stretched position. This gentle stretch is beneficial for healing.
  • Medicines- Pain relievers like ibuprofen and naproxen may help manage your pain and swelling up to some extent. These medications are, however, not recommended for long-term use. 
  • Orthotics- Orthotics such as arch supports, running insoles, shoe inserts, and heel cups are common ones that help to exert evenly distributed pressure on the affected foot.
  • Physical therapy- Your physical therapist can assist you with foot-specific massages, stretching, cold therapy, and other ways to improve your condition.  
  • Cortisone injections- In this treatment, cortisone mixed with an anesthetic is injected at the pain site. It helps reduce inflammation and pain during the morning or after intense activity. Long-term cortisone treatment may further weaken the plantar fascia and cause chronic pain. 
  • Extracorporeal shock wave therapy- This therapy can stimulate your healing using sound waves. However, in some cases, this therapy does not prove beneficial. Your doctor will suggest whether you need shock wave therapy.
  • Ultrasonic tissue repair- Your damaged tissue can be broken up and cleared using a thin device. Ultrasonic tissue repair is effective against chronic plantar fasciitis.
  • Surgery- Surgical procedures such as plantar fasciitis release or gastrocnemius recession are suggested to patients not getting sufficient results from the above treatment options. 

Tips: For Prevention of Plantar Fasciitis

  • Use kinesiology tapes to add extra support for your foot.
  • Always warm-up before you start intense exercise activities.
  • Manage a healthy weight. You may try healthy weight loss recipes if you are worried about your weight gain.
  • Wear shoes that are comfortable and support your feet properly.
  • Try strength training. Consult your health care provider before starting.

Takeaway

The above write-up discusses in detail the use of crutches for plantar fasciitis, possible problems associated with it, useful tips while using crutch use, common risk factors, prevention tips, and treatments options for plantar fasciitis. 

Knowing details about your condition and associated information may help you take a better approach to your treatment. Consult your doctor if you have additional queries.

Fayezah Kader
Wholesomealive.com -a blog about Healthy Living
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