Do your feet hurt constantly and nothing seems to relieve the pain? If this is you, it might be time to consider getting evaluated for a plantar fasciitis diagnosis. Making up 10% of the American adult population, plantar fasciitis is one of the most common conditions causing heel and foot pain. In this week’s blog, we will be discussing what plantar fasciitis is, how it is treated, and what we can do to help.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is a tough, fibrous band of tissue that runs along the sole of the foot that helps support the arch of the foot and has an important role in normal foot mechanics during walking. The plantar fascia attaches to the heel bone and the base of the toes.
Plantar fasciitis is when the fascia becomes inflamed due to a number of factors such as an increase in activity level, the structure or shape of the foot (flat feet, high arches, etc.), surfaces that we constantly step on (grass, asphalt, concrete, etc.), improper footwear, and/or the body weight one carries.
Plantar fasciitis typically causes heel pain, however, pain can be concentrated to the entire foot and even into the calf. Pain is usually worse in the morning when getting out of bed or after a duration of inactivity. Pain tends to diminish when performing activity or warming up during movement. That doesn’t mean that more vigorous activity or activity performed for a prolonged period of time will alleviate the pain permanently. Plantar fasciitis is a vicious cycle because pain is stimulated from both prolonged movement and inactivity.
How is Plantar Fasciitis Treated?
There are several different techniques and treatments used for plantar fasciitis. Some techniques work better than others. Two of the most common treatments for chronic plantar fasciitis is steroid injections directly into the plantar fascia and laser treatments. The success rate for these two treatments is very low, leaving patients in pain and frustrated. Surgery is not commonly performed, but there is a surgical option that also has a low success rate.
These options discussed above are used only if conservative management failed to manage pain. There are a few conservative techniques that even we recommend using to help treat plantar fasciitis.
The first technique is simply stretching the foot and calf muscles regularly. Yes, you heard right. The calf muscles attach to the Achilles tendon on the back of the heel which is where most pain presents with plantar fasciitis. The best stretch for the calf muscles is calf raises. Simply go to the bottom step on your stairs at home, stand on your tippy toes and then drop your feet back until you feel a nice stretch in the calf muscles. Do this as often as you can. Another good calf stretch is to put your hands up against the wall and do a wall lunge. You will feel a nice stretch in the glute muscle and all the way down the leg.
There are two really good stretches for the feet that directly stretch the plantar fascia. The first one is taking a tennis ball and continuously rolling it along the entire sole of the foot. Don’t have a tennis ball? That’s alright. Take a water bottle and throw it in the freezer until it is completely frozen. This will replace the tennis ball. Once it is frozen, continuously roll it along the entire sole of the foot.
The other stretch is to take a lightweight exercise band and wrap it along the sole of the foot in a seated position. With the leg extended, grab each end of the band and pull it toward your face until there is resistance. Once the resistance is achieved, start bending the foot in a downward direction repeatedly.
Another good option to keep the foot stretched is to put a plantar fasciitis brace on at night while sleeping. This brace allows the foot to stay in a stretched position and reduce the classic morning stiffness. It will not completely fix the problem, but it could provide temporary minor relief.
What Can We Do to Help?
Chiropractors take a slightly different approach when treating plantar fasciitis compared to podiatrist. In fact, the majority of patients who come to our office with plantar fasciitis have been to a number of podiatrists without relief. Surgery, laser treatments, and injections all failed, so what can be done?
At our office, the doctors are highly skilled adjusting extremities such as the feet. Providing extremity adjustments along with spinal manipulation helps optimize the nervous system and allows the body to function efficiently. Along with adjustments, the doctors also provide information about proper stretches to perform on the plantar fascia as well as proper footwear and orthotics. Stay tuned for next week’s blog on proper footwear and orthotics.
For more information or questions about plantar fasciitis and management, please call us at (724) 547-3377 and checkout our website at www.drlarrywilkinsspinalcare.com for more content.
Yours In Health,
Larry E. Wilkins, DC
Brian M. Steinert, DC