Botox for Plantar Fasciitis? New Treatment With Promising Results
Posted by Jenn F. on Monday, February 18th, 2013
Botox isn’t just for your forehead wrinkles anymore! Actually, the botulinum toxin has been used for years to treat a variety of disorders (including treating foot pad loss and sweaty feet, believe it or not) but it’s only recently that it’s been used to treat plantar fasciitis, a particularly troublesome, common, and difficult to manage foot disorder. The problem accounts for one million doctor visits every year, accounting for 9% of all running injuries. So, any new treatment has the potential to help a lot of suffering people. In some cases the condition is temporary and it responds well to rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). But, in other cases it becomes chronic, debilitating the sufferer for months or years.
A recap: the plantar fascia is the band of tissue that runs along your arch from your heel to the ball of your foot. Plantar fasciitis occurs when that band of tissue becomes damaged, often from micro tears, the result of over use or of a tight calf muscle. (A tight calf puts excessive tension on the plantar fascia, often causing micro tears even without other damaging movements). A damaged plantar fascia then becomes inflamed. This condition sometimes occurs alongside heel spurs, though plantar fasciitis can also occur on its own.
Historically, chronic plantar fasciitis has been treated with anti-inflammatories and, eventually, with steroids (powerful anti-inflammatory agents). But, in a recent study, Botox was shown to be more effective than steroids for this condition.
The botulinum toxin (Botox) is a protein that temporarily paralyzes muscles. This reduces pain and, a 2013 Mexican study showed, improved outcomes. The double-blind, placebo-controlled study looked at two patient groups, one that was treated with steroids, the other with Botox. Both groups were given the same physical exercises to help with their recovery. At first the two groups recovered at a similar rate, showing gradual improvement. Then, the Botox trial group began to improve more quickly, reporting lower pain scores and showing better functionality and alignment. The best part of this news: Botox does not have the same potentially dangerous side effects seen with steroids.
The take away message: Botox may be a beneficial treatment for chronic plantar fasciitis sufferers, with fewer side effects and better clinical outcomes. Still, this is very new science and more research is needed.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.