Heel Pain and Plantar Fasciitis
Dr. Caren Fortin, BHK, DC - Doctor of Chiropractic
Picture this: It’s a beautiful morning. You have had a restful sleep. You are looking forward to the day ahead. You gracefully put your feet on the ground and are met with, “ow, ow” each time you take a step because of the pain on the bottom of your feet. It doesn’t sound so lovely, does it? Maybe you have been this person and were wondering what to do. Chiropractors can diagnose and treat the musculoskeletal system and can help you with your pain in this area. It is possible that the pain is something called Plantar Fasciitis.
Heel pain, specifically plantar fasciitis, can be a debilitating pain. Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain and is thought to be experienced by about 10% of the general population at any given time. Those that do experience it can end up taking time off work, activities and sports due to the level of pain. Most individuals are between the ages of 25 and 65 and can have it in one or both feet. Increased strain on the bottom part of the foot, due to weight gain and loss of arch height can also be contributing factors.
Plantar fasciitis, despite the “itis” in its name indicating inflammation, is not an inflammatory condition. It results from micro tears developing as a result of repetitive stress like running or standing for long periods of time. The constant stretch of the plantar fascia can lead to the pain stated above and even pain at rest or when sleeping. Plantar fasciitis is usually characterized by pain that is located at the front part of the heel (towards the toes) on the underside of the foot. The pain may radiate towards the toes. It is usually more painful first thing in the morning and can be dull, achy or sharp. It also generally improves with rest and stretching.
When considering the diagnosis of plantar fasciitis, imaging like x-ray or ultrasound are not necessary. However, heel spurs, fat pad syndrome, stress fracture and nerve compression are other conditions that can present with heel pain that can mimic plantar fasciitis. X-ray and ultrasound can be helpful to rule these out as diagnoses.
With no treatment of plantar fasciitis, most cases will resolve within 12 months. With conservative care, that timeline can improve.
Conservative treatments that have shown to have some benefit include:
ice after activity (frozen water bottle under the foot works well)
deep friction massage of the front part of the heel
corrective night splint
stretching and rehabilitation exercises for the lower leg, ankle and foot
If anti-inflammatories are needed, a medical doctor or pharmacist are the professionals that you should turn to for answers. No matter what form(s) of treatment are chosen though, they need to be carried out for at least 6 weeks.
So, if you have been feeling like the bottoms of your feet have been really painful when you are standing, walking or first thing in the morning, have a professional assess and diagnose your condition. The chiropractors at Wellness for the Body are happy to help. We are a click of a button or a phone call away.
Buchanan BK, Kushner D. Plantar Fasciitis. [Updated 2022 Feb 2]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK431073/
McClinton, S. M., Flynn, T. W., Heiderscheit, B. C., McPoil, T. G., Pinto, D., Duffy, P. A., & Bennett, J. D. (2013). Comparison of usual podiatric care and early physical therapy intervention for plantar heel pain: study protocol for a parallel-group randomized clinical trial. Trials, 14, 414. https://doi.org/10.1186/1745-6215-14-414