06 Dec How long does it take to recover from Plantar Heel Pain ?
Naturally, when you’re experiencing the sharp, exquisite and unrelenting symptoms of Plantar Heel Pain, you want to know how long it might take to get better.
The colloquial phrase “how long is a piece of string” is reasonably fitting in response as there are so many factors affecting the rate of healing. Tissue damage, age, chronic illnesses, weight, occupation and activity are all relevant among many, many others.
There is a couple of rules of thumb that can provide a gauge of how long treatment might take.
Rule of Thumb 1: However long you’ve had it, is approximately how long it will take to recover.
This rule of thumb is mostly true for pain that has persisted less than 3 months, and the reason why we encourage people to seek treatment early on in their symptoms. We regard this as Acute Plantar Heel Pain.An acute flare up of heel pain can be reasonably mitigated through some simple strategies such as taping, stretching, footwear changes and adjustments, activity modification and soft tissue therapies of the foot and calf.
So for instance, pain that has commenced only a week or two ago, the degeneration of the ligament hasn’t progressed all that much, so we should be able to reverse the cycle and get it feeling better within a week or two.
Rule of Thumb 2: For pain persisting longer than about 3 months, we try and getting it better within 3 months.
The plantar fascia has really similar characteristics to that of tendon, and most of it’s strength comes from the collagen within it. Collagen has a slow repair rate, much slower than bone and muscle. Most Tendonopathies focus on a 3 month, 12 week or 100 day recovery timeframe.A lot of the research on treatments for Plantar Heel Pain follow up patients at intervals of approximately 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months and 12 months. Most of the research for most of our treatment options don’t see positive outcomes until around the 3-month follow up. The exception is Corticosteroid injection however it’s long term effects aren’t that great.
Unfortunately there is no quick fix, and no magic bullet.
This is the hardest concept to get your head around and often the most frustrating. Chronic Plantar Heel Pain can take some time to rehabilitate from. Our aim is to give you strategies to fast track it and make it much more tolerable.
So what improvement are we looking for when we are rehabilitating Plantar Heel Pain?
First step in the morning
If you ever have are currently experiencing heel pain, without question the first thing you probably want to be relieved of is the First Step Pain in the morning. With treatment we want to see improvement of the level of pain in the morning, as well as how many steps or how long it takes to warm up.
At its absolute worst, how bad is it?
We know /10 scales can be tiresome, highly individualised and frustrating for patients to try and provide an answer. But they can be helpful for us in determining how debilitating your heel pain is, and whether we’re making progress.
We want to see your highly debilitating, excruciatingly painful 9/10 heel pain to reduce as quickly as possible to a more tolerable 3-4-5/10.
If we can think of a timeframe, say a day, or a week, how many hours does it bother you?
Do you notice it less throughout a day? Are there starting to be days where you don’t notice it?
Of the 168 hours in a week, are you noticing your heel pain less and less as we progress with treatment?
We should start to see improvements in consistency, having more hours in the day without symptoms, and more days in the week without pain.
It is important to understand the nature of the injury, what your triggers for an increase in symptoms are, and ways to reduce and mitigate those symptoms. We know that it can be a slow, rocky and uncomfortable journey to recovery.
Our job is to make it as swift and tolerable as possible.