Plantar fasciitis is painful irritation and swelling of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue along the bottom of the foot. Pain in the bottom of the heel is the most common complaint, and the pain is typically worse in the morning. Plantar fasciitis makes walking difficult. It can be caused by foot-arch problems, obesity, running, sudden weight gain or a tight Achilles tendon. Wearing a night splint to keep your foot in a flexed position, as it is when you are standing, allows the plantar fascia to stretch, decreasing morning pain. Splints are available for purchase at physiotherapy centres and doctor's surgeries, or you can make your own.
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Things you need
- Measuring tape
- Plaster of Paris
- Petroleum jelly
Measure the distance from the ball of your foot to your heel. Measure the distance from your heel to 5 cm (2 inches) below the back of your knee. Add the two measurements together. Cut strips of cloth in that length and 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inches) wide.
Follow the manufacturer instructions to mix the plaster of Paris to create a pasty slurry. Put the strips of cloth into the plaster of Paris mixture.
Coat the bottom of your foot and the back of your leg with petroleum jelly to prevent the plaster of Paris from adhering to your skin.
Hold your foot in a flexed position, with a 90-degree angle at your ankle. Apply the soaked cloth strips to the back of your leg. Start at the ball of your foot and work up to 5 cm (2 inches) below the back of your knee. Mold the strips to your leg, making sure to smooth the strips as you go. Apply the cloth strips until the splint is approximately a quarter-inch thick. Smooth the edges.
Avoid moving your leg until the splint has hardened, then remove it from your leg. Secure a thick layer of cotton to the inside of the splint with glue. The cotton will pad the splint and make it more comfortable.
Use Velcro straps or an elastic bandage to secure the splint to your leg at night. Make sure the splint is secure enough to hold your foot in a flexed position while you sleep.
Tips and warnings
- Mix and apply the plaster of Paris on a newspaper-covered surface for easy cleanup.
- Avoid wrapping the completed splint too tightly to avoid circulation issues.
- If you have compromised circulation, such as from diabetes, consult a doctor before wearing a night splint.
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