The pain of Plantar Fasciitis can be excruciating, especially that first step in the morning, and sufferers are understandably keen to try anything for a little relief or even a step towards curing the problem completely. Night splints that are worn on the affected foot are one interesting aid in a range of treatment options that help to support and heal the damaged foot overnight.
This guide to Plantar Fasciitis night braces will look at some of the pros and cons of the different models.
The most common choice of brace on the market is the boot – a large aid that fits around the foot, ankle and leg to place the foot in the right position and stretch in the best way to ensure an on-going, positive impact on the plantar fascia. The Orthotronix adjustable Plantar Fasciitis night splint is a great example here as it has plenty of features that help with this optimal position and stretch, such as dual tension straps to increase the angle of the foot and an optional wedge to provide a further 5 degrees of flexion and really test the tendon.
Another notable benefit of using one of these boot braces is the security of the foot because of the strapping around the foot, leg and ankle. Some of these boots really are substantial pieces of footwear that hold you in place overnight for the best result. Some boots, like the AlphaBrace Plantar Fasciitis night splint, look a little scary and take some getting used but the best options are careful to provide this security with as much comfort as possible. This particular model uses a trio of padded, buckled straps to “ensure immobilization” but also includes a soft, breathable foam interior.
The biggest issue with this option is that there is no getting away from the fact that you are going to sleep with a massive boot on, which can have an impact on how comfortable you can get in bed. The best boot splints should have minimal impact on sleep and be as convenient as possible for users and the Ossur medium Plantar Fasciitis splint seems to want to take this gentle, user-friendly approach with its use of a lightweight, breathable shell with a fairly low profile shell and center-release buckles that make the boot easier to put on and off.
These large shoes also pose difficulties when getting up in the morning, or in the middle of the night, because they are so restrictive and cumbersome. Some models, like the Bird and Cronin INC Plantar Fasciitis night splint attempt to counter this and ease the pain of that first step with padded liners and straps and a non skid pad.
Dorsal braces an an interesting alternative because they have a much smaller profile and are nowhere near as heavy and restrictive as a boot splint. They offer greater freedom of movement while still stretching the toes up for dorsal flexion and tend to be more comfortable.
This is certainly the case with the Cramer Active ankle DNS dorsal night splint as it is quite small, fairly easy to walk around in and protects against heat retention. The problem with dorsal night splints is that they are not as supportive and heavy-duty as boot braces and feet can slip out of position a bit too easily. Also, the design of the strapping on the toes can lead to tingling and numbness.
It is important to note that some consumers of the products highlighted above have marked them down in their reviews due to the results and the lack of instant or substantial relief from their foot condition, which leads us nicely to the final point to remember when shopping around for a Plantar Fasciitis night splint. These braces can do wonders at night with the way that they stretch the plantar fascia and support the foot but they should be used as an aid as part of a wider course of treatment option and not a single cure. Wear a comfortable, supportive brace at night and some specially designed orthotic shoes or insoles during the day for continued treatment and relief.