Do you suffer from, heel pain, plantar fasciitis or foot pain? Patients often report how much it has affected their life and their ability to participate in their usual daily activities. They describe plantar fasciitis as walking on thumb tacks, a burning sensation or having a red hot knife plunged into their foot! In worst case scenario’s when symptoms have continued for months some patients report that it has altered their life dramatically as they can no longer even go for a simple walk without severe pain. You can find more information on our section on foot pain.
One of the most common of the foot ailments is heel pain and the cause is usually inflammation of the plantar fascia or heel spurs. The plantar fascia, is a band of connective tissue that surrounds the muscles on the bottom of the foot. It connects the heel bone to the ball of the foot, supporting the arch, protecting the foot and absorbing shock.
What causes plantar fascitis / heel pain?
Patients with plantar fasciitis often complain of pain in the morning after first standing when they get out of bed and when they stand after prolonged sitting. The pain originates just in front of the heel bone, but can spread over the entire bottom of the foot. Over time, inflammation associated with the condition can lead to the development of scar tissue, calcium deposits and eventually heel spurs. These spurs are a bony growth on the front part of the calcaneus of heel bone where the plantar fascia attaches and can cause sharp stabbing pain with walking.Other factors that stress the plantar fascia include: sudden strenuous activity after a period of long-term inactivity, abnormal walking patterns, improper footwear, walking on hard or uneven surfaces especially barefooted, and obesity. Plantar fasciitis can become very painful and persistent and can reoccur in some people.
How is it treated?
Someone who is experiencing these symptoms should consider consulting a qualified professional for advice on management such as taping, massage, icing and stretching, prescribed exercises and using acupuncture and shockwave therapy (1,2). Our chiropractors use a combination of these techniques to treat. Treatment varies depending on presenting symptoms and duration of the complaint.
Shockwave therapy interacts with tissue causing overall effects of accelerated tissue repair and cell growth, analgesia and mobility restoration. Acoustic waves with high energy interact with tissue causing overall effects of accelerated tissue repair and cell growth, analgesia and mobility restoration. Pain reduction occurs by dulling the nociceptors, which are the pain sensing nerves. Collagen production is stimulated which helps muscles, tendons and soft tissue structures to heal and repair, while the formation of new blood vessels occur in the area because the shock waves promote a processes called angiogenesis. This means more oxygen and nutrients are able to help repair injuries. There are numerous scientific studies that can be found here on the effectiveness of shock wave.
- El Molla, S.S., Fahmy, A.M., Gamil, A.M. et al. Evaluation of plantar fasciitis improvement after shock wave therapy in calcaneal spur patients by musculoskeletal ultrasonography. Egypt Rheumatol Rehabil 48, 43 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s43166-021-00085-y
- Burton, Ian1; Cooper, Kay1,2,3; Alexander, Lyndsay1,2; Swinton, Paul Alan1. Effectiveness of combined shockwave therapy and plantar fascia stretching interventions in treating plantar heel pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis protocol. JBI Evidence Synthesis 19(5):p 1186-1192, May 2021. | DOI: 10.11124/JBIES-20-00186