What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. When inflamed, it can cause a stabbing pain, typically felt during your first steps in the morning or after long periods of standing or sitting.
How Do You Get It?
Several factors can contribute to plantar fasciitis:
- Foot Mechanics: Flat feet, high arches, or an abnormal walking pattern can affect weight distribution, putting added stress on the plantar fascia.
- Age: It’s more common between the ages of 40 and 60.
- Certain Activities: Exercises that place a lot of stress on your heel and attached tissue, like long-distance running, can contribute to the onset.
- Excess Weight: Extra pounds can put additional strain on your plantar fascia.
- Occupational Risks: Jobs that require long periods of walking or standing on hard surfaces might damage the plantar fascia.
How Is It Treated?
- Soft Tissue (Massage) Therapy: This is a hands-on approach involving manual manipulation of the foot’s soft tissues. The goal is to alleviate tension, improve circulation, and stimulate the healing process.
- Stretching: Stretching the plantar fascia and the Achilles tendon can help alleviate tension and reduce pain.
- Dry Needling: This involves inserting fine needles into specific points, often areas of tightness or ‘knots’ in the muscle, to stimulate healing and relieve pain. The mechanism is believed to be twofold: breaking up tissue adhesions and increasing blood flow to the area.
- Laser Therapy: Also known as cold laser therapy or low-level laser therapy (LLLT), this treatment uses specific wavelengths of light to stimulate the body’s healing processes. It’s believed to reduce inflammation and pain, and promote tissue regeneration.
- Ultrasound: Therapeutic ultrasound uses sound waves to generate heat within body tissues, promoting healing. It can help reduce inflammation, increase blood flow, and break down scar tissue. For plantar fasciitis, it’s used to stimulate the plantar fascia and surrounding tissues.
- Orthotics and Night Splints: Customized shoe inserts can distribute pressure more evenly when you walk, providing support and relieving stress on the plantar fascia. Night Splints can hold the foot in a dorsiflexed position overnight, which stretches the plantar fascia and can help reduce morning pain.
- Medication: Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): These are often recommended to reduce pain and inflammation.