Don’t let foot pain stop you in your tracks!

Foot pain can be frustrating at best and debilitating at worst.  One common ailment that causes foot pain is plantar fasciitis (pronounced PLAN-tar fashee-EYE-tiss).  Heel spurs may accompany plantar fasciitis and are often addressed together.  While it is common in runners, you don’t have to be a track star to experience this condition. 

Those with higher risk factors include: females, overweight or thin individuals, wearers of worn-out shoes, those with an arch that is either flat or very high, those with tight Achilles tendons, persons who experience repetitive stress, those with diets low in vitamin C, and those subjected to activities that require them to be on their feet several hours a day.  Stress fractures can also be a cause of plantar fasciitis.  While there is a range in severity of pain associated with plantar fasciitis, roughly 50% say the pain is constant and 90% report increased pain when the heel is pressed deeply.

The bottom of your foot has a thick band of tissue called “fascia” that stretches from your heel to your toes.  This fascia supports muscles and the arch of the foot.  Tiny tears occurring in the fascia can lead to pain and inflammation.  While sometimes localized to the front and bottom of the heel, for some individuals, the pain covers the entire bottom of the foot.  One of the hallmarks of plantar fasciitis is that the pain is typically at its worst in the morning or after sitting, and intensifies with standing or walking.

Some patients prefer to wait it out and simply rest and use over-the-counter medication for the pain.  Since it could take a few months to go away, and may become chronic, many prefer to treat the condition in order to speed healing and minimize pain during that time.  As an expert in the musculoskeletal system, your chiropractor can help you navigate the best treatment for you.  Some treatment options for sufferers of plantar fasciitis are:

o   stretching and strengthening calf muscles, Achilles tendon, and lower leg muscles

o   wearing shoes that fit the foot properly and provide appropriate support (could also include an insole or support that would provide additional support)

o   ice packs or other cold items (i.e. frozen water in mini-cup with popsicle stick handle)

o   weight loss to reduce pressure on the feet

o   change of exercise routine to avoid or modify anything that causes an increase in pain

o   keeping foot elevated to reduce internal inflammation

o   taping or compression of the foot

o   wearing a brace or boot at night to maintain flexion of the foot to gently stretch the fascia

o   daily self-massage of the feet, ankles, and arch

Unfortunately, even with treatment, plantar fasciitis may take a few months to completely heal.  However, treatment can speed that process as well as reduce pain in the interim.  Your doctor of chiropractic can evaluate your foot and determine which treatments will be most beneficial to you. 

Additionally, they can assist you with dietary and exercise changes to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.  In some cases, your chiropractor may refer you to a podiatrist or another specialist, as appropriate, for additional treatment such as medication, steroid injections and as a last resort, surgery. 

If you have foot pain that doesn’t seem to be going away, schedule an evaluation with your local chiropractor.  With proper treatment, you may prevent an incidence of plantar fasciitis from becoming a debilitating condition that requires invasive measures.  Learning the causes of the injury and making modifications to your shoes and lifestyle may also reduce the chance of a recurrence in the future. 

Those feet were made for walking.  Let your chiropractor help you get back on track!

 

Sources:

1) Plantar Fasciitis (Heel Spurs) A Patient’s Guide by Darryl Curl published in Dynamic chiropractic November 30, 1998, Vol. 16, Issue 25

2) Web MD – What is Plantar Fasciitis?