I’m Trying Several Strategies to Manage Plantar Fasciitis Soreness

Columnist Karen Del Vecchio searches for ways to relieve her foot pain

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

by Karen Del Vecchio |

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With the second week of school behind me, I’m starting to get back into the rhythm of my teaching routine. I recently noticed that, on some days, the bottom of my foot near my heel is sore. This has happened to me in the past, and it usually goes away on its own within a week. It was particularly painful one day, though, so I decided to do a little digging.

It turns out that I probably have some mild plantar fasciitis going on in my right foot. This is when the plantar fascia, the tissue that helps support the arch, gets inflamed. Once I read that, I immediately wondered if it’s more common in people with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). A quick Google search revealed it is.

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I’m Exploring Options to Improve Comfort at Work and Ease EDS Symptoms

I suppose that’s not too surprising, given that those of us with EDS tend to have flat feet, as our more lax tendons and ligaments don’t support an arch particularly well. While many medical professionals have suggested arch supports, I’ve found that they tend to cause me extreme pain, to the point where my foot will start cramping uncontrollably. My best guess is that trying to force the presence of an arch in a foot that’s never really had one goes too much against my body’s natural tendencies.

Now that I’m aware of the issue, I’m paying more attention to the shoes that I’m wearing. I’m trying to wear shoes to work that have sufficient support and padding, and I’ve also found that one pair of my horseback riding boots provides better pain relief than the other.

I’ve also been putting Biofreeze on my heel at night before bed, which seems to help some. While ice is often recommended for plantar fasciitis, I’m hesitant to try it. Ice usually backfires for me, as cold tends to make my already tight muscles even tighter. I almost always do better with heat, but I must be careful not to add to the inflammation by applying heat to the region.

I’m thinking about getting a foot roller to see if that helps at all, and I’m hopeful that during my next massage my awesome therapist can make some progress as well. I had success using kinesiology tape on my shoulder many years ago after an injury, and there’s a very basic taping technique I could try on my foot.

While it’s frustrating that EDS has thrown another monkey wrench at me, a little bit of research has led me to a variety of options that I can explore. I’ll be curious to see which ones help as I try them out!

Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.


Maire Johnson avatar

Maire Johnson

I have had severe PF in both feet for 20 years now...I am one of the apparently rarer hEDS folks with high arches rather than flat feet! For me orthotics have been absolutely crucial, but they haven't been curative for all things foot. I also have low bone density in my feet (yay, VitD deficiency + surgical menopause at 31, now 22 years ago), and a variety of the usual hEDS complications of chronic insult to joints and ligaments. I've broken bones in my feet roughly every year or two for the last decade alone, and it isn't always just one bone that gets broken. I don't have to be doing anything unusual, either. I snapped a sesamoid in half just kneeling in my living room. Ouch! Tendonitis, tendinosis, PF, degraded bones, bursitis, bone spurs, etc. Feet are....such a pain! LOL

I wonder if you'd find useful a very LOW arch support? Failing that, you might find it helpful to seek out specifically a deep, cushioned heel cup. I think (please don't hold me to this) that Dr. Scholls might offer something along that line, but I can't be sure--nor can I know, of course, whether that or something prescribed by a podiatrist would benefit you best. I only know that for me, a deep and cushiony heel cup is CRUCIAL to dealing with the sensation of walking on hot broken glass that is PF.

It's so frustrating how our goal posts keep getting moved without warning, isn't it? I'm now 52 and only got the official hEDS diagnosis THIS JULY, as in two months ago, and really only got it because I knew that having a medical file that filled as many file boxes as I do made no sense if there wasn't some overarching (or underlying, depending upon one's perspective LOL) explanation. Some...unifying thing, if you will. So I never gave up trying to find an explanation. I hate to think of all the folks who have been through something similar who ended up having to stop searching for whatever reason and never have been able to get crucial assistance as a result.

Petra Braun avatar

Petra Braun

Hi there, thank you for this interesting article. I am currently struggling with the same and have heard from my chiropractor that a night splint product might be beneficial (after only 1 night my pain level in this area decreased from 4 to 1):
Link to possible product:
Note: I am not an influencer and have no affiliation to the product, just want to help by suggesting an additional option
Kind regards

D Gall avatar

D Gall

Good orthotics can hurt a little more at first. It maybe that you tried to go too far too fast - also make sure it has a deep well padded heel cushion. A foot rocker can give your feet a great stretch that will help with loosening up the proper parts of the foot. Don't ignore it. It will only get lose the longer you ignore it. I did for a long time and now I cannot even wear anything with a heel for over 20 years (even after months of therapy and injections). Dansco and timberline pro make some excellent shoes with good built in support.

KJ Forest avatar

KJ Forest

Been there also. Could my experience be helpful? I hope maybe a little. Take this with a big grain of salt (kidding, we do better with less salt than most folks). Follow medical practitioners, not me, but I can share what has apparently worked and removed the pain when teaching and while at home at this end. My Dad shared his go to: Tuli Heel Cups (medi-dyne dot com, the classic ones not the heavy duty ones b/c the waffles are smaller and so are more comfortable for reducing hEDS heel skin pressure). I place them in all shoes and carefully place feet into shoes (with an old-fashioned long-handled flat shoe horn holding the heel pads in place, thanks Dad!). I can't use any heel pads or insoles with circles, dots, labels, etc. under the heel, the pressure against skin gradually sets off plantar fasciitis aching and heel spur-type pain, sorry scholls. Champion Walking Shoes ("men's" sizes have more padding and deeper insoles) with Tuli heel cups have alleviated a lot of the problem. Never walking on bare floors, period. Never wearing shoes with back of ankle-touching heels. Dearfoam "men's" scuff slippers around the house (they have almost an inch more padding than the women's models) with no heel stitching for keeping the pressure off of the nerves in the back and bottom of the foot and away from floor contact. Lightweight blanket layers for that 8-hours of avoided pressure on lower limbs while sleeping. Staying within our "30% flex" comfort zone (thanks PT Sheila!) rather than 'over-stretching' the calves and plantar fascia and the connection it makes to the place where heel pain connects to the bottom of the foot. Balancing magnesium, calcium (and phosphorus and potassium) to help reduce tightness and muscle spasms in the area. Why does massaging seem like such a good idea and hurt so much a few hours later? Light fascial release massage (surface circles) instead of any vertical pressure has been found to help distract nerves. Intermittent icepack (long blue ones from Wal green s are nice shape and are 'less cold' than ice) through a thin paper towel for 15 minutes at the end of the day is pleasant. Heat packs not so much, not sure why. Walking and increasing the distance gradually when it doesn't hurt strengthens the area to keep it from hurting. Avoiding walking on stones, sticks, uneven ground, and taking hills slowly, sometimes walking toe-to-heel on stressful surfaces to keep weight off of the plantar fascia. Placing my feet one at a time level to the ground to keep pressure off of a starting-to-hurt back of foot. I find standing still can get uncomfortable (all over), however pacing instead seems to keep the area and other joints warmed up without getting too stiff. Drawing alphabets in the air with your toes while sitting and those exercises? I do them but only when there's no pain present at the time, and stop before it starts hurting. When the tendons are involved, the pain perception is delayed, so 'pause well before it hurts' is a good rule of thumb (thanks PT Sheila again). Walking barefoot on a wood floor = pain in 5 minutes. Following my self-care regimen = pain maybe once a month for a few hours. I hope something here is helpful. Wishing you all the best.

ellen wallace avatar

ellen wallace

My bunions have returned after surgery 7 years ago...Because of the loose ligaments the big toe has shifted and rubs against the second toe....Very very painful with blisters etc etc. No doctor wants to redo the surgery.....Any suggestions? My ankles are weak which caused the bunions in the first place with foot pronating...HELP...Toe spacers do not help In very bad pain...thanks Ellen Carmel California

ellen wallace avatar

ellen wallace

Stretching the ligaments in back of calf is exercise I do when i get plantar fasciitis....Also the arch supports do hurt for the very reason you mentioned Dr took out almost the entire orthotic and just left a tiny amount which does seem to help a bit. But stretching exercises do help I do them two times a day the calf muscle is tight and stretching helps...good luck....Do you have bunions like me also? I just asked question to the group about bunions issue ellen

Julie Tsohandaridis avatar

Julie Tsohandaridis

Please leave a list of all suggested remedies or aids! I’ve now had medium to severe PF of both feet, have day & night splints - but I have to be careful they don’t cause spasming. My feet tend to be worst when I first get out of bed. How about you?

Stan Guest, PT, OCS, OMPT avatar

Stan Guest, PT, OCS, OMPT

Leuko tape is better for managing the plantar fasciitis. I was able to continue my running with use of the Leuko tape. I have a how to video on our you tube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/cgphysicaltherapy

Terri R. avatar

Terri R.

Try doing the yoga pose 'downward dog' several times per day, and pump your heels while you're in the position. This helps stretch out the muscles of the feet.

susan leibler avatar

susan leibler

I think everyone should do whatever it is that helps them. No two people are alike. I live in FL, have flat-as-a-pancake feet and because my skin is so tender (while drying with a towel after a shower, my skin literally sloughs off) and I can't have elastic touch my skin or it rubs a tear, the only footwear comfortable for me is flip-flops, with spongy heels. As I am aging, everything is progressively getting worse.


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