What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain and has been estimated to affect about two million people in the US, resulting in more than one million visits to both primary care physicians and foot specialists. Your foot has a thick, fibrous band of tissue (”fascia”) reaching from your heel to your toes and these tissues support the muscles and arch of the foot. The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band which helps support the arch of the foot. It is thought that repetitive tensile stress from standing for long periods of time or running causes changes in the fascia that can be either acute or chronic.

 Plantar fasciitis affects both sedentary and athletic people and is thought to result from chronic overload either from lifestyle or exercise. Under normal circumstances, your plantar fascia acts like a shock-absorbing bowstring, supporting the arch in your foot. If tension and stress on that bowstring become too great, small tears can arise in the fascia. Repetitive stretching and tearing can cause the fascia to become irritated, inflamed, or degenerate though in many cases of plantar fasciitis, the cause isn’t clear.

 Ignoring plantar fasciitis may result in chronic heel pain that hinders your regular activities. Changing the way you walk to minimize plantar fasciitis pain might lead to foot, knee, hip or back problems. Current literature suggests that plantar fasciitis is more correctly termed fasciosis because of the chronicity of the disease and the evidence of degeneration rather than inflammation. Treatment is often difficult because of the poorly understood mechanism by which the body heals chronic degeneration as opposed to acute inflammation.

Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis

Classic symptoms include:

  • severe pain in the morning or after a rest period that improves with movement but is aggravated by long periods of weight-bearing.
  • tenderness to touch over the inside heel and
  • discomfort with bending the big toe upwards
  • stabbing pain that usually occurs with your first steps in the morning.

Plantar fasciitis typically causes a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot near the heel. The pain is usually the worst with the first few steps after awakening, although it can also be triggered by long periods of standing or rising from sitting. The pain is usually worse after exercise, not during it.

Risk Factors

  • Increasing age, which decreases plantar fascia flexibility and thins the heel’s protective fat pad
  • Diabetes
  • Spending most of the day on one’s feet
  • Frequent short bursts of physical activity
  • Having either flat feet or high arches
  • limited ankle flexion

Statistics on Plantar Fasciitis

  • Plantar Fasciitis occurs in up to 10 percent of the U.S. population and accounts for more than 600,000 outpatient visits annually in the United States.
  • 95% of people with plantar fasciitis are able to recover within 6 months of onset with the use of home treatments. While half a year may seem like a long time, it’s nothing compared to the recovery time of surgery. Sometimes, however, plantar fasciitis will not go away with home remedies
  • Untreated, plantar fasciitis can be serious. That morning symptom is a hallmark of plantar fasciitis, a common source of heel pain, which in turn is the top persistent foot ailment and among the most debilitating, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association.
  • The prevalence of plantar fasciitis is lowest in those aged 18-44 and highest in those aged 45-64.
  • Females are 2.5 times more likely to report plantar fasciitis than males.
  • For patients who do not improve after initial treatment, corticosteroid injection or dexamethasone (Decadron) iontophoresis may provide short-term benefit. However, these therapies do not improve long-term outcomes and may cause plantar fascia rupture.

How can a Chiropractor help with Plantar Fasciitis Pain?

The initial examination will cover a detailed medical history, your daily home, and work routines, and a discussion about anything else that could have hurt your feet in the past. Dr. Luke will examine your Feet, Ankles, Knees, Hips, Low-back, and Spine to trace the problem to the root cause of your pain. Then the two of you can deal with your immediate symptoms and decide what happens next. In cases of acute trauma or past history of Feet pain, X-rays will be taken to ensure that conservative care is right for you.

At Advanced Health Chiropractic we can instruct you in a series of exercises to stretch the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon and to strengthen lower leg muscles, which stabilize your ankle and heel. To further reduce the pain of plantar fasciitis, try these self-care tips:

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. Lose weight if you’re overweight or obese to minimize stress on your plantar fascia.
  2. Choose supportive shoes. Avoid high heels. Buy shoes with a low to moderate heel, good arch support, and shock absorbency.
  3. Don’t wear worn-out athletic shoes. Replace your old athletic shoes before they stop supporting and cushioning your feet. If you’re a runner, buy new shoes after about 400 to 500 miles of use.
  4. Change your sport. Try a low-impact sport, such as swimming or bicycling, instead of walking or jogging.
  5. Apply ice. Hold a cloth-covered ice pack over the area of pain for 15 to 20 minutes three or four times a day or after activity. Or try ice massage. Freeze a water-filled paper cup and roll it over the site of discomfort for about five to seven minutes. Regular ice massage can help reduce pain and inflammation.
  6. Stretch your arches. Simple home exercises can stretch your plantar fascia, Achilles tendon and calf muscles.
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