Plantar fasciitis is one of the most prevalent causes of heel and foot pain. It involves strain and inflammation of the tissue (plantar fascia) on the bottom of the foot that connects the heel bone to the base of the toes. This pain may last anywhere from several days to several months. It is often recognized as increased stabbing pain upon your first steps in the morning. The pain may then subside after you are up and moving around for a bit. However, the pain often returns after a long day of standing, walking or running.
Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
The plantar fascia plays an important role in supporting the arch and absorbing shock as we walk or run. Repeated stretching, pulling and tearing of the fascia irritates this tissue and can cause inflammation.
- Age: plantar fasciitis is most common among people between the ages of 40 and 60.
- Occupation: standing or walking all day on hard surfaces, such as factory workers or teachers
- Foot mechanics: flat feet or high arches may be prone to increased strain on the bottom of the foot
- Obesity: excess weight may cause excess strain on the plantar fascia
- Exercise: certain types of exercise including long distance running, ballet or aerobic dancing may contribute to plantar fasciitis
- Improper footwear: high heels, unsupportive or worn out footwear
- Arthritis: the tissues lose elasticity, develop tiny tears and the fatty pad on the heel may start to erode
- Tight calf muscles: restricted range of motion and tightness of the calf muscles pull on the Achilles tendon thereby pulling the heel bone away from the fascia.
- Ligamentous laxity: a lack on needed nutrients can lead to poor repair of ligaments, so repetitive activities cause excess strain that does not allow the foot to heal.
Frequently ignoring chronic heel pain will lead to change in your gait or the way you walk, which has the potential to lead to other foot, knee, hip or back problems.
In the acute phase, the goal is to reduce pain and inflammation. Patients often use anti-inflammatories during this phase, which may be appropriate. However, you do not want to use NSAIDs for too long as they can often slow down the healing process and cause digestion, kidney or liver issues. As an alternative or in addition to, we offer supplements and/or regenerative injections such as Prolozone and Homeopathic injections to help support and speed up the healing process.
Rest, heat or cold packs. Limit the ice or cold packs to 15 minute increments the first 48 hours of onset. Subsequently applying heat for 15 minutes once per hour is most helpful at relaxing the foot and aiding in the healing process.
Massage is a fantastic way to address plantar fasciitis. Not only is it necessary to massage the foot but it is important to massage the calf muscles as well. If the feet are too painful to massage you may sit in a chair and roll the bottom of your foot across a tennis ball or frozen water bottle. Hand held massagers may also be applied to the foot and calf muscles to relieve tight, sore muscles. Hand held massagers can be purchased here in our office at Alta Mountain Chiropractic.
Taping the foot can be helpful to offer some additional support. Patients are taught how to do this so they can apply the tape at home as needed.
Night splints can be worn at night while sleeping, thus keeping the Achilles tendon in a lengthened position, essentially stretching out the calf while you sleep.
Orthotics may be recommended for some patients, these help in distributing the weight more evenly across the foot.
Keep in mind strengthening the calf muscles, in addition to the previous suggestions will help maintain a healthy foot.
It is recommended to avoid getting steroid injections in the foot for Plantar Fasciitis. Steroid injections can lead to the weakening of connective tissue, necrosis, scar tissue buildup and fat pad damage. Here at Alta Mountain Chiropractic, we provide regenerative injections and supplements that are safe and effective as an alternative treatment to steroid injections.