INTRODUCTION AND CAUSES:
The plantar fascia is a thin ligament that connects the heel bone to our toes. It serves to support the arch of our foot. These ligaments help us to walk and act as shock absorbers. They experience a lot of stress, wear and tear. Injury to this ligament can cause its inflammation and cause difficulties in walking or running. It is one of the most common causes of heel pain in middle aged people.
The most common causes of Plantar Fasciitis are:
- Obesity is a major cause of injury to the plantar fascia ligament.
- Having arches or flat feet.
- Standing for long periods of time, especially on hard surfaces.
- Tight Achilles tendon or calf muscles.
ANATOMY OF PLANTAR FASCIITIS
The plantar fascia is a flat band of ligament that connects the heel bone (calceneus) with the toes. It supports the arch of our foot and is used when we walk or run. They act as shock absorbers and are generally quite resistant to wear and tear. The plantar fascia experiences a lot of stresses during our daily life. The plantar fascia consists of three different parts- medial, central and lateral bands. The central part is the strongest and the thickest part. Generally, the central part is involved in Plantar Fasciitis.
CONVENTIONAL MEDICATIONS AND ITS ADVERSE EFFECTS
Conventional medicines for treating Plantar Fasciitis include NSAIDs (Non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) and corticosteroid shots. The commonly used NSAIDs include Ibuprofen (Mortin, Advil) and Naproxen (Aleve). Injections of botulinum toxin are also prescribed in certain cases. These conventional medicines do not cure Plantar Fasciitis but they reduce the pain to some extent. However, they have some dire side effects such as:
- NSAIDS are often associated with irritating of the stomach lining, ulcers and triggering kidney problems.
- Corticosteroid shots have cortisone which has adverse side effects such as weakening the immune system, insomnia, mood changes, stomach pain, nausea, vision problem, rapid weight gain, low potassium and alarmingly high blood pressure.
- Botox (botulinum toxin type A) has serious side effects such as allergic reactions, headache, muscle stiffness, stomach ache, nausea, fever, cough, flu and increased sweating.
HOW MASSAGE THERAPY COULD HELP
As mentioned before, medicines do not cure Plantar Fasciitis but only serve to reduce the pain. Massage therapy is a natural and effective way of treating Plantar Fasciitis. Physiotherapy is used to decrease inflammation of the plantar fascia. Proper stretching, exercise and improved walking mechanics are vital components of curing Plantar Fasciitis. Massage therapy reduces inflammation, improves blood flow, relaxes the muscle spasms and strengthens the Plantar Fascia. Deep Tissue Massage is also a potent treatment for Plantar Fasciitis.
CONSERVATIVE CHIROPRACTIC TREATMENTS
- Massage Therapy– As aforementioned, massage therapy is one of the most potent treatments for Plantar Fascia. Deep Tissue massage therapy is an extremely effective technique which focuses on the deeper muscle tissues. Finger pressure is applied on the plantar fascia through slow and steady strokes. Deep tissue massage relaxes the muscle spasms, improves blood flow, breaks scar tissues, and removes muscle toxins.
- The Graston technique– A very effective treatment that breaks up the scar tissues and allows complete recovery of the plantar fascia is the Graston technique. The Graston technique uses stainless steel instruments that are classified under Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM). The instruments have rounded, concave and convex non sharp edges. The Graston treatment accelerates the speed of healing and reduces sharp pain. This technique removes soft tissue injuries and irritation that prevents injuries from recovering completely.
- Laser therapy treatment– The Low Level Laser therapy (LLLT) has been found to be eminently successful in curing Plantar Fasciitis. In the laser therapy, light of different wavelengths are projected on the affected area for several seconds or minutes, depending upon the area and the extent of injury. The cells absorb this light, and initiate several events which ultimately reduce pain, inflammation and muscle spasms. Laser therapy accelerates cell growth and repair, reduces formation of fibrous tissue, increases blood flow and nerve function, increases energy production and decreases trigger points.
Plantar Fasciitis is the most common foot injury treated by healthcare providers. Almost 2 million Americans are affected by Plantar Fasciitis every year. Conventional medicines such as NSAIDs and corticosteroid shots do reduce pain but they do not heal Plantar Fasciitis. Additionally, they have adverse side effects on our body. Deep tissue massage, Graston technique and Low Level Laser Therapy are effective and potent ways of treating Plantar Fasciitis.