Plantar fasciitis can make walking extremely painful. There are traditional medical treatments and devices, as well as pain-reducing medications that a patient can take. Many people, however, would benefit greatly from visiting a chiropractor for alternative care and assistance in preventing future pain.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
When the thick tissue under the foot, which connects to the heel and toes, gets inflamed, this is a condition called plantar fasciitis. It occurs when the plantar fascia is overstretched. People with foot arch problems, long distance runners, the obese, those with a tight Achilles tendon, and people who have unsupportive shoes are most at risk of developing this disorder. There may be swelling associated with the pain and stiffness.1 The pain is worse right after awakening, and it “feels like a stab in the heel” of the foot.2 Other risk factors for developing plantar fasciitis include being between ages 40 and 60, being female, having flat feet, high arches, or poor walking patterns, people who have jobs on their feet, and shoes that do not allow stretching.3 Prolonged plantar fasciitis can lead to a chronic condition of heel pain, reduced activities, back and hip problems, and foot and knee problems (resulting from changes in walking).4
Traditional Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis
Medical treatments for plantar fasciitis begin with acetaminophen and ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and decrease pain. While stretches to the heel and foot are also recommended, patient will generally be prescribed special devices called “night splints” to wear while they are sleeping. Patients will need to wear more supportive shoes. They may need to ice the area and wear a heel cup or shoe inserts. More severe cases will lead to a patient having to wear a boot cast and orthotics (custom shoe inserts) and possibly steroid shots in the heel. Treatments may take months to years, and if they don’t improve the condition, some doctors will recommend surgery.5 Surgical options include “extracorporeal shock wave therapy…sound waves directed at the area of heel pain to stimulate healing” and “detaching the plantar fascia from the heel bone”. Surgeries carry risks, such as bruising, infection, swelling, tingling, pain, and numbness, and the effects are not necessarily beneficial to all patients. Surgery can weaken the arch in the foot.6
Because of the risks of surgery and the side-effects of medications, patients with plantar fasciitis may want to explore using chiropractic care as an alternative treatment. A chiropractor will check for proper alignment to make sure that a patient can walk correctly. Often, chiropractors may recommend specialized orthotic inserts to “reduce or redistribute pressures on the foot”. If the ankle and foot joints don’t move properly, a chiropractor can manipulate and mobilize these joints. They can also address adjustments for the hips, knees, pelvis, and spine. Chiropractors can not only relieve acute pain, but they can work to prevent future issues. Patients will likely be asked to alter their activities and exercises, as well as perform home treatments of “icing or massaging the arch of the feet”.7