Plantar Fasciitis: What is a Night Splint?
Tuesday, 7 July 2015 | John
If you are suffering from foot pain, you may have a problem with Plantar Fasciitis. Affecting the area of the foot called the plantar fascia, Plantar Fasciitis can vary in severity from a mild pain in the morning to an agonising ache that severely limits your movement.
One potential treatment for plantar fasciitis is the use of a night splint. This is designed to be used overnight and holds the foot in such a way that the affected tissue is continually stretched and becomes tighter. This helps the tissue heal and go back to its correct length, preventing pain and discomfort.
Should I Wear a Night Splint?
One of the main problems with a night splint for plantar fasciitis is that many patients find them uncomfortable to wear in bed and find it difficult to sleep while wearing it. As a result, some doctors recommend that people using a night splint use them in their relaxation time at first before wearing them in bed, so that they can get used to wearing it.
Many doctors will recommend a night splint as a main treatment for plantar fasciitis, and frequently prescribe them to their patients, although there is some evidence that they are not as effective on people with longer-term plantar fasciitis.
Types of Night Splint
There are two main types of night splints; dorsal night splints and posterior night splints.
Dorsal night splints sit on the front of the foot, and are generally considered to be the more comfortable option as they are not as intrusive, and can be walked on if needed.
Posterior night splints (also known as boot splints) sit on the bottom of the foot, and tend to be more bulky and intrusive than dorsal night splints. They are usually made from rigid plastic and have a soft inner layer with an appearance similar to a large boot.
However, dorsal night splints can slip away from your foot and the larger straps than those on the posterior night splint can cause sweating.
Alternatives to Night Splints
There are several alternatives to night splints. One example is a night sock, which makes for a more comfortable night’s sleep as it is much less intrusive than either a dorsal or posterior night splint. This is because it is basically a sock with a solid base that you wear at night. It does the same thing as a night splint, except using a single strap rather than a series of straps and a rigid frame.
In addition to a night splint or a night sock, using a shoe insole during the day can greatly help your recovery from plantar fasciitis. The right shoe insole can cushion the heel, distribute weight evenly across your foot and absorb the shocks of walking — all of this will reduce the stress on the plantar fascia and will help the tissue heal.