Plantar fasciitis is a cause of heel pain that involves inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot and joins the heel bone to the toes.
The cause of plantar fasciitis is poorly understood but can be caused by several factors, including the type of shoes, foot structure, overuse, and types of walking surfaces. Other causes include excessive running or walking, inadequate footgear, jumping injury from landing, reactive arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis.
The symptom of plantar fasciitis is heel pain, typically worse in the morning when taking the first steps. It can also cause stabbing pain with certain activities such as running or walking.
Diagnosis of plantar fasciitis is usually made based on medical and physical examination, and imaging tests are usually not necessary. Treatment for plantar fasciitis includes rest, stretching exercises, physical therapy, orthotics, and in some cases, surgery.
Causes and Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
When you walk, run, or jump, the plantar fascia stretches and contracts to help absorb shock and distribute weight evenly across the foot.
Plantar fasciitis is expected when the plantar fascia becomes inflamed and irritated. A variety of factors can cause plantar fasciitis pain:
- Staying On feet all day for work
- Playing sports
- Exercising or working on a hard surface
- Exercising without stretching or warming up
- Overstretching or overuse of the ligament
- A tear or tiny tears in the fascia tissue
- Foot structure
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include pain and tenderness in the bottom of the foot, particularly near the heel. This pain worsens in the morning or after extended periods of sitting or standing. Some people may also experience swelling or stiffness in the foot and running. Other symptoms include:
- Pain can also be triggered by long periods of standing or when getting up from sitting
- Heel pain
- Pain in the arch of the foot
- Swelling around the heel
- Tight Achilles tendon
- Pain increases gradually
- Pain coming after jumping from a height
- Pain tends to be the worst when getting up in the morning or after other periods of inactivity
Alternative Treatment Options for Plantar Fasciitis
- Massage Therapy
Massage therapy helps to reduce tension in the plantar fascia. It also helps to increase circulation, which can help to reduce inflammation and pain. Cross-friction massage is a technique where a massage therapist does not use lubricant and instead uses their fingers to massage the foot.
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese practice that involves inserting fine needles into pressure points in the body to alleviate pain and stimulate healing. Research has shown that acupuncture can provide short-term pain relief for plantar fasciitis.
- Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic care is a natural, non-invasive process to treat plantar fasciitis pain. It can include manual adjustments and therapy to minimize foot stress and address the source of the pain. This process can involve a chiropractor adjusting the foot or ankle to straighten out the bones and joints, relieve pressure off the heel, and help reduce pain.
- Physical Therapy
Physical therapists can teach exercises to stretch the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon and to strengthen lower leg muscles. They use manual therapy techniques such as soft tissue and joint mobilization to reduce pain and improve function.
- Stretching Exercises
Stretching helps to stretch the plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, and calf muscles, which can help reduce pain and inflammation. Examples of stretching exercises include the seated towel stretch, hip hovers, frozen water bottle rolls, wall calf stretch, sideways leg lifts, reach and stretch, crossover fascia stretch, ballet raises, step-up arch extensions, and monkey foot towel lifts.
- Footwear Modifications
Footwear modifications involve shoe changes to reduce pressure on the plantar fascia and improve foot alignment. The orthotics can be made of various materials such as foam, gel, or plastic and can be either off-the-shelf or custom-made. It is especially useful for people with tight calf muscles, which can contribute to Plantar Fasciitis pain.
- Night Splints
Night splints are used in plantar fasciitis treatment by keeping the foot, ankle, and calf muscles flexed to prevent the shortening of the plantar fascia during the night. It helps to stretch the ligament, which prevents further tears or strain and aids in the healing process. They are designed to keep the foot flexed, which helps stretch the plantar fascia and reduce pain.
Nutritional and Lifestyle Changes
- Anti-Inflammatory Diet
An anti-inflammatory diet focuses on eating fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats. Foods such as spinach, oranges, pumpkin seeds, and white beans are highly anti-inflammatory nutrients like vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and MSM. These nutrients help reduce inflammation in the body and can help reduce the pain associated with plantar fasciitis.
- Weight Management
Carrying excess weight puts additional stress on the feet and can exacerbate Plantar Fasciitis symptoms. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces the pressure on the plantar fascia, allowing it to heal and recover. Additionally, weight management can help the development of Plantar Fasciitis in the first place.
- Proper Hydration
Proper hydration is essential for reducing the pain associated with plantar fasciitis. When the body is dehydrated, the plantar fascia becomes dry and brittle, leading to tears and inflammation.
It can cause pain and discomfort in the foot. Staying hydrated helps to keep the plantar fascia moist and supple, which can help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with plantar fasciitis.
- Rest and Stress Management
Resting the affected foot and ankle can help reduce inflammation and pain. Additionally, taking a break from activities that may have caused the condition can help reduce stress on the plantar fascia.
In conclusion, while there are a variety of traditional treatments for plantar fasciitis available for plantar fasciitis, alternative treatments can also effectively reduce pain and promote healing. From stretching and massage to acupuncture and herbal remedies, numerous options exist.
Of course, it’s essential to always consult with a healthcare professional before trying any new treatment for plantar fasciitis. With patience, persistence, and the right combination of therapies, those suffering from plantar fasciitis can find relief and return to their active lifestyles.