Plantar fasciitis affects millions of Americans each year. It accounts for approximately 10 percent of all runner-related injuries and between 11 and 15 percent of foot symptoms that require professional care.
If you think you might have plantar fasciitis, keep reading. This guide explains what this condition is, what causes it, and how it can be treated.
Plantar fasciitis is another name for an inflamed plantar fascia. This is a band of connective tissue that extends from the heel to the toes.
Plantar fasciitis is characterized by stabbing pain near the heel. In most cases, the pain is worst early in the morning, but it improves as the day goes on. It may also return after standing for long periods — or when you stand after sitting for a long time.
Plantar fasciitis is caused by small tears (micro-tears) in the fascia. These tears result from stress, tension, and repeated stretching.
Several different issues can cause or contribute to micro-tears and inflammation in the plantar fascia, including the following:
Sometimes, plantar fasciitis results from abnormalities in the structure of one’s feet. If they have flat feet or higher-than-average arches, the plantar fascia may experience more stress and micro-tears while they walk or run.
An irregular walking pattern can contribute to plantar fasciitis as well. If someone regularly walks their feet rolling inward or splayed outward, this can strain the tissues and lead to inflammation.
The Achilles tendon attaches the calf muscles to the heels. If the Achilles tendon is tight, this can cause a chain reaction that makes you more prone to plantar fasciitis.
A tight Achilles tendon leads to decreased ankle flexibility. This, in turn, results in a tight plantar fascia, which is more prone to micro-tears and inflammation.
Those who engage in certain types of exercise may be more prone to plantar fasciitis. This includes runners, ballet dancers, and those who regularly participate in aerobics classes.
These kinds of exercises put a lot of stress on the feet and can contribute to micro-tears and inflammation. This is especially true if someone also has an irregular gait or structural abnormalities that affect their feet.
Those who work in certain types of jobs are more likely to develop plantar fasciitis as well. This is especially true of those who spend a lot of time on their feet each day, such as teachers and factory workers.
Frequent standing and walking — particularly on hard surfaces — create more opportunities for micro-tears and inflammation to occur in the plantar fascia.
People of any age can struggle with plantar fasciitis. However, it’s more common among middle-aged and older adults — those aged 40 and up.
As you get older, you’ll need to be more proactive about caring for your feet if you want to avoid the micro-tears and inflammation that characterize plantar fasciitis.
Those who are overweight or obese place more pressure on their feet when they stand or walk. This creates more opportunities for micro-tears, inflammation, and pain to develop.
Certain types of shoes — i.e., those that do not have an adequate amount of cushion and arch support — place more stress on the feet than others.
Everyone should wear shoes that support their arches and maximize comfort. However, this is especially true for those who have high arches, flat feet, or other structural abnormalities.
Whether your plantar fasciitis is caused by a particular type of exercise or age, the good news is that there are ways you can improve your symptoms. The following are some of the most well-known and effective treatment options:
Adding orthotics — inserts that support the arch and encourage proper weight distribution across the feet — to your shoes can provide better support and reduce the stress placed on your feet while you walk, stand, or exercise. Some orthotics can be purchased over the counter, and others are created specifically for your feet by a specialist.
Some healthcare providers recommend night splints to manage plantar fasciitis symptoms.
Night splints keep the feet in a stretched position while you sleep. This helps to prevent cramping and soreness. It may also reduce the amount of pain you feel when you wake up in the morning.
If you are overweight or obese, losing weight can reduce the pressure you place on your feet and minimize pain and inflammation. Work with a professional who can create a meal plan that is easy for you to follow and help you safely and sustainably achieve your weight loss goals.
Regular chiropractic treatment can also treat plantar fasciitis and help you experience long-term relief.
A chiropractor can perform adjustments on the spine, hips, knees, ankles, and feet. Adjustments in all of these areas reduce pressure, promote relaxation, and encourage proper blood flow and healing.
Chiropractors can also teach those with plantar fasciitis stretches and exercises to reduce tension and prevent ongoing aches and pains. They can help you improve the way you distribute weight while you walk and stand, too.
Some professionals, including chiropractors, also offer low-level laser therapy — including FDA-approved Erchonia laser therapy — as an effective treatment for plantar fasciitis.
Erchonia laser therapy uses low-level laser technology to stimulate the muscles, nerves, and ligaments of the feet. When the body absorbs this energy, the mitochondria of the cells are encouraged to produce more ATP (short for adenosine triphosphate). Increased ATP production promotes faster, natural healing.
Erchonia laser therapy does not cause side effects like burning or scarring, and no downtime is required afterward. You can get back to business as soon as your treatment is over.
In a recent randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study, they found that by using Erchonia's 635 nanometer wavelength laser for just 6 visits, patients noticed significant improvement in their overall symptoms and function.
If you’re tired of dealing with the pain and discomfort caused by plantar fasciitis, it’s time to take action and schedule an appointment with us and see if we can help.
Working with a Meridian chiropractor who has experience treating plantar fasciitis will help you combat your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Contact us at Align Integrated Medical today to learn more about how we help fix plantar fasciitis and other similar problems.