If you’re like many people suffering from plantar fasciitis, your most dreaded moments come when you wake up in the morning and place that initial pressure on your feet. That excruciating first step that feels like a sharp pebble driving into your heel is enough to not want to start the day at all in many cases. Unfortunately, life and work goes on whether you’ve got heel pain or not and you need a solution.
So how do you go about resolving that pain? Well, hopefully you’ve already taken the initiative to speak to your physician and perhaps they’ve put you on a program that includes wearing orthotics, stretching and massaging your fascia and Achilles and maybe even using a night splint.
Most times, patients don’t have a problem with wearing inserts or shoes for plantar fasciitis, however that pesky night splint just seems so bothersome. But if you’ve tried healing plantar fasciitis naturally without resolution you’ll probably find yourself asking the question, do night splints work for plantar fasciitis? Well, to find that answer, continue reading below and then find out more in our “Night Splint” menu option at the top of the page.
Anyway, let’s see if night splints are all they’re cracked up to be. But first a little background.
WHY DOES MY HEEL HURT IN THE MORNING?
Going back to that fist step you take in the morning, you may want to know why your heel hurts so bad when you wake up and take those first few steps.
Well, for many plantar fasciitis sufferers, the pain normally subsides to some degree for a good portion of the day after that rough patch in the morning. This is because you’ve had a chance to get up and around and the constant strain on your fascia is actually stretching it out.
Then, when you lay down for the night, your feet have a chance to relax. This period where there is no stress on your feet allows the fascia and Achilles to contract while you lay in bed. For several hours there is no pressure being applied to the ligament and it has the opportunity to adapt to a nonfunctional state.
That is why the first step is so painful. The non-stretched and non-functional fascia is being tested with all of your weight. This is when you feel that sharp pain and this is why many physicians will suggest a stretching routine first thing in the morning… to loosen up the tissue.
Of course, there is another way to get around this. The night splint keeps your Achilles and fascia stretched all night and most research actually supports claims that it helps to reduce morning pains as well as helps in the overall recovery of plantar fasciitis!
DO NIGHT SPLINTS WORK FOR PLANTAR FASCIITIS?
The only way to know if a night splint works for plantar fasciitis is of course to find out if others have benefited from its use. These are the protocols that show extremely positive results in favor of using a night splint in your regimen.
Study #1 – Night Splint and Conservative Treament Protocol
Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of a Night Splint as part of a treatment in managing plantar fasciitis.
Groups: 40 patients with plantar fasciitis, ages 20-74 (average age 45 years old) split into two groups. The Control Group received Ibuprofen, a heel cushion for their shoes and a stretching protocol. The Night Splint Group received the same, plus a posterior night splint for sleeping.
Results: In the Control Group 6 of 17 were cured in an average of 9 weeks, with the remaining 11 transferred to the night splint protocol – after which 8 of the 11 were cured after an average of 13 weeks. In the original Night Splint Group, 16 of 16 were cured after an average of 12.5 weeks.
Conclusion: The Night Splint protocol was significantly more efficacious as a treatment option.
Study #2 – Night Splint and/or Arch Supports Protocol
Objective: To determine the effect of a night splint (Group 1), arch supports (Group 2) or both used together (Group 3) as a treatment option for plantar fasciitis.
Groups: 90 patients with plantar fasciitis, 30 split into each of the 3 groups. Demographics showed no significant difference between enrolled patients.
Results: After 6 weeks, there were no significant differences in all outcome measurements between Groups 1 and 2, but there were significant differences betwen 1 and 3, as well as 2 and 3.
Conclusion: A Night Splint and Arch Supports used together may be more effective than either one used individually in accelerating the healing process.
Study #3 – Night Splint and Conservative Treatments Protocol
Objective: To evaluate the effect of a night splint in conjuction with a conservative treatment protocol in the treatment of plantar fasciitis.
Groups: 44 patients with plantar fasciitis on at least one foot, ages 27-70 (average age 50). Group 1 received conservative treatments of heel cushions, NSAIDs, activity modification, stretching protocol, and a diet for overweight individuals. Group 2 received the same, plus the use of a night splint during sleep.
Results: At the end of 8 weeks, patients that kept a night splint protocol showed significant improvements in progress and pain scores. Group 2 patients expressed a significant reduction of pain felt during their first step in the mornings within the first 10 days.
Conclusion: The study’s combined treatment methods are believed to be more important in resolving plantar fasciitis, according to the authors.
Study #4 – Night Splint For 1 Month Protocol
Objective: To determine the effects of 1 months use of a dorsiflexion night splint for plantar fasciitis.
Groups: 37 patients with chronic plantar fasciitis. Group A wore splints for the 1st month, Group B wore splints for the 2nd month, with no splints worn by either for the following 4 months. No other stretching or medications were prescribed.
Results: At the end of the study, 80% of the involved feet improved subjectively, while 88% of the patients who complete the study saw significant improvement based on the Ankle-Hindfoot Rating System and the Mayo Clinical Scoring System.
Conclusion: The authors believe the use of dorsiflexion night splints provide relief from symptoms related to recalcitrant plantar fasciitis in the majority of patients.
Now that you’ve seen the results, visit our plantar fasciitis night splint reviews to find out which ones are rated the best for comfort and functionality.
So in answer to the question, do night splints work for plantar fasciitis, you now should have a substantiated answer. That answer is a resounding, “it certainly seems to help, when patients actually conform to the protocol.” It may not be comfortable initially, however, it is something that most feel they get accustomed to and the results speak for themselves.
This information has been provided in an effort to show you the treatment protocols that podiatrists normally recommend and the backing that supports their decisions. While many physicians run different practices, the majority of them will likely prescribe a mix of all of the conservative treatments that you’ve seen here.