How Botox Can Help Your Feet
Botox appears to be helpful from head to feet. Although it’s well known that Botox can help temporarily banish the wrinkles from your face, scientists now report that the injections of the toxin can help correct a common problem with your heels.
What is this common heel problem?
Approximately 1 million people in the United States suffer with chronic heel pain, a condition known as plantar fasciitis. It is the most common cause of foot pain in the country, according to Disabled World, and makes up 11 to 15 percent of all treatment for painful feet.
The condition gets its name from the part of the foot that it affects: the plantar fascia, which is a ligament that connects the heel bone to the toes and supports the arch. The pain can range from mildly uncomfortable to stabbing and debilitating.
Botox is not just for wrinkles
Typical treatments for plantar fasciitis include steroid injections, orthotics, wearing splints at night, use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and exercises that stretch the ligament. Steroid injections are commonly used, but up to 6 percent of patients experience a ruptured plantar fascia following treatment.
The authors of a new study appearing in Foot & Ankle International suggest doctors use Botox (botulinum toxin A, or BTX-A) injections rather than steroids. While injections of the toxin relax (temporarily paralyze) the muscles in the face to erase wrinkles, Botox injections in the feet weaken the ligament, which relieves swelling and pain.
In a double-blind, randomized, controlled clinical trial, the researchers treated 19 adults with Botox and 17 with steroids. All the patients were told to perform plantar fascia stretching exercises during the six-month trial period.
By the end of the study, patients who had been treated with Botox had significantly better function, pain relief, and alignment than did individuals who were treated with steroids. People treated with Botox also experienced a faster and more sustained improvement.
Dr. Carlos Acosta-Olivo, one of the study’s co-authors, noted that stretching exercises are a necessary part of successful treatment. Individuals could also help by reducing their risk factors (see below).
More about plantar fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis can develop if you strain the ligament, especially repetitively. The strain causes tears in the plantar fascia, which then results in swelling and pain.
Although plantar fasciitis is more common among middle-aged and older people, it can occur in younger people, especially those who are on their feet for extended periods of time. Some risk factors for plantar fasciitis include:
- Walking, jogging, or running on hard surfaces, especially for long periods of time
- Flat feet
- High arches
- Overweight or obesity
- Ill-fitted shoes
- Tight Achilles tendon or calf muscles
One way to help prevent the development of heel pain is to do stretching exercises for plantar fasciitis. If you do get plantar fasciitis, you can talk to your doctor about how Botox may help your feet.
Elizondo-Rodriguez J et al. A comparison of botulinum toxin A and intralesional steroids for the treatment of plantar fasciitis: a randomized, double-blinded study. Foot & Ankle International 2013 Jan; 34(1): 8-14