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How to Have Big Success Beating PF Without Cortisone

How to Have Big Success Beating PF Without Cortisone

If you think taking a cortisone shot to cure your plantar fasciitis pain is a good idea, then you may be surprised to discover that you’ve been misled.  Not exactly deceived, but maybe not been made  aware of  the whole story.

The truth is that planter fasciitis injections are  problematic because a critical patch of  fat, the heel pad, is located close to the most likely injection site. In short, You need to have big success beating PF without cortisone. There are  side effects of using cortisone shots for PF. What does this mean? Check out the illuminating statement below:

“I ignored my podiatrist’s advice not to have cortisone injected into my heel and asked my family doctor, who obliged,” says Christine Byers, a Boston-qualifying masters runner from Valparaiso, Indiana. “I now have no fat remaining under that heel and can no longer walk barefoot. Custom orthotics are the only reason I’m able to walk or run reasonably comfortably.” Running Times. 420 (Sept. 2014): p28.

Cortisone and Knee Pain

That said,  it’s not your fault if you’ve been believing that you can safely  use cortisone  for foot pain. After all, there have been many cases when upper-body problems or arthritic knees have been treated with some success using cortisone.  Cortisone is a potent anti-inflammatory drug. When injected into the knee joint, it can help reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling.

It’s a natural leap  then to think if cortisone can help my bad knee it should then help my bad feet. Well, I’m here to clarify things and help you discover the side effects of using cortisone shots for PF.  My hope is that if after reading the information, you’ll think twice before letting someone stick a cortisone injection in your heel. Let’s get started.

Doing Your Job of Not Ignoring Pain

You have probably been told that ignoring pain, hoping that it will go away, will lead to more problems. Foot and ankle pain, for example, that once seemed minor can quickly turn into a major issue needing serious attention. As John Kennedy, M.D., a foot and ankle surgeon at the Hospital for Special surgery in New York, points out: “Each day about 27,000 ankle sprains occur in the U.S.; half of those will end up injuring cartilage, and at least 25% will injure tendons or other soft tissue.” Muscle & Fitness/ Hers. 17.3 (May-June 2016): p50.

So of course you want to do the right thing and not ignore your pain.

First Line of Defense

Cortisone shots not usually considered a first-line or long-term treatment for PF. In fact, your options should look something like this:

Journal of Family Practice 52.9 (Sept. 2003): p714.

How Cortisone Masks The issue

A big problem with cortisone is it that it doesn’t cure what caused your injury. It merely buys you time to temporarily get rid of the pain and resume training. The problem, however, is that experiencing no pain is not the same as being cured. It’s just masking the problem. A Running Times article illustrates the point. It tells the story of  Two-time New Zealand Olympian Kim Smith:

Ten days before the London Marathon, Smith hurt her foot on a 10-mile tempo, badly enough that it was painful to walk. Following an MRI and a consultation with her doctor, she had cortisone injected into the sheaths of two inflamed tendons. “I ran two days later and it felt OK, [then] did a very short tempo to test it and it felt good,” she says. But by the time she got to London, she was back to square one. “It was back to the point where I couldn’t walk on it again–much worse even than before the cortisone. I’m not sure if the cortisone wore off or I just irritated it further by masking the pain, but I don’t think I would get one again.”Running Times. 420 (Sept. 2014): p28.

 Worse Then Masking

At times cortisone injections can, when overused, do more damage than the original  condition it was used to treat.  They can destroy cartilage, rupture tendons near the joint, and damage blood supply to the underlying bone. In short, they can mess you up. Consequently, this is why they have to be the last thing you consider when seeking pain relief for PF.

But the alternatives are hard, you might say. I don’t know how to do them. Really? You would be surprised how doable all the suggested alternatives  are.

Consider the following : limit offending activities. All this means is something as simple as using a cushioned mat over a hard work space, reducing the impact on your feet if you stand  for prolonged  time over one spot. Boom! Done. Easy. Needles anyone? I don’t think so.

Or consider the second option related to the first—wear supportive footwear.  Seeing is believing. This is what an unprotected foot looks like.

Shoes should have adequate arch support and cushioned heels. Worn or ill-fitting shoes can exacerbate PF due to lack of proper cushioning. Over time, running shoes can lose a significant amount of shock absorption. Consequently, a new pair of running shoes can do much to decrease foot pain.

You want to consider the following when getting that sweet new shoe:

Buying new shoes is a lot better than having someone stick a needle in your foot. These are two examples that you can do before considering a cortisone injection. So,  let me ask you something. How old are those running shoes in your closet?

I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

6 thoughts on “How to Have Big Success Beating PF Without Cortisone

  1. These are all good tips for anyone who has foot pain! And it’s very important too! And I agree that we shouldn’t put on any uncomfortable shoes to leave any pain for us later on. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi Jasmine,

      Thanks for your feedback. Yes, I think that one of the biggest mistakes that people who suffer from Plantar Fasciitis make is not paying attention to proper foot ware. Runners, for example, should get rid of the shoes after 300 miles. Keeping them until their cushioning thins out is a very bad idea.

  2. After having watched a family member take cortisone shots in their shoulder regularly and in numerous areas of their back once for a car accident injury, I am not a fan. I appreciate you taking the time to help others make better informed decisions then I feel my family member had when they were being given the injections. It is not a cure, and it can make it worse, as I have seen. I think what we all need is better options or at least other options before we have to make a choice as to use one thing versus the other. It was good to point out the individual’s statement regarding their doctors. It really does depend on which doctor you ask, some are quick to just give whatever and some, like my doctor, will try many alternatives before taking a more drastic route. Thank you for such an insightful article.

    1. Hi Charlie,

      I realize that some people may feel that they need cortisone to deal with the pain of back or foot injury. However, I think it should be be the last resort. Cortisone more times than not masks the real root of the pain. Often after a brief relief, the pain comes back. I am glad that you have a doctor who will try many alternatives before suggesting cortisone. I think it’s important that people make better informed decisions when it comes to using cortisone for pain management.

  3. IOh! This is just a perfect and timely post for my wife and teenage daughter. I have been warning them on the type of shoes they use, but my warnings seem to be falling to a deaf ear.
    I am surely sharing this with them to learn that shoes we choose should always be the comfortable type.

    1. Hi Devine,

      As I said in the post, buying new shoes is a lot better than having someone stick a needle in your foot. Cortisone injections for the most part just mask foot problems, without doing anything to really solve the issue. So, go ahead and show this post to your wife and daughter. Perhaps this time your warnings won’t fall on deaf ears.

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