Two types of footwear secretly make me cringe when I spot them.  They are cheap flip-flops and ballet flats.  These shoes and prolonged barefoot walking on concrete or tile can create the perfect storm for prompting plantar fasciitis.

What is plantar fasciitis?

The plantar fascia is a tough layer of tissue that attaches from the heel as a continuation of the Achilles tendon, spans the long arch of the foot, and finally ends at the toes.  When the fascia is under significant tension and limited recovery, inflammation accumulates and can cause severe arch and heel pain.  When the fascia is inflamed, we call this plantar fasciitis.  Poor arch support footwear such as flip-flops, prolonged standing, walking on concrete floors, and flat feet can all lead to the development of plantar fasciitis.

It’s an issue with my foot, so is a chiropractor suited to help with plantar fasciitis?

A chiropractor is trained in assessing gait, joint alignment, and neuromusculoskeletal structures and can identify and diagnose any relevant conditions.  As such, any or all of these factors are considered within a chiropractic assessment of a patient with plantar fasciitis.  A chiropractor can determine the source of the issue.  An issue in the pelvis and lumbar spine can translate to too much force in the foot during walking and running.  Other times, tight calf muscles or issues with the bones and joints of the foot are the culprits.

What can a chiropractor do to help with plantar fasciitis?

As a chiropractor, I would address plantar fasciitis from all angles.  Initially, the priority is to address misalignments in the foot, lower extremity, pelvis, and lumbar spine.  Secondly, it’s necessary to address tension in the musculature and fascia of the leg and foot.  Lastly, exercises and custom orthotics may be suggested to support arch challenges or other anatomical issues.  Ultrasound and myofascial release can be incorporated within a treatment.  Commonly, massage therapy or acupuncture can address inflammation and myofascial adhesions.

What can someone with plantar fasciitis do at home?

As plantar fasciitis is a condition of inflammation, managing the inflammation is paramount in the treatment and ultimate resolution of this pesky situation.  Luckily, low-tech options are plentiful.  Throwing a water bottle or golf ball in the freezer, and then rolling it around the arch and ball of the foot can be very beneficial. Using KT tape to address calf musculature challenges and arch issues could also be helpful. Focusing on stretching the calf muscles, incorporating balance and mobility exercises, and even changing sleep position could have a positive impact.  Braces or sleeves can be used at night to minimize the calf muscle and arch shortening that occurs in sleep postures.  A critical look at footwear choices may identify some shoes that are past their prime, don’t provide arch support, or have no shock absorption.  

If conservative treatment doesn’t work, what are my other options?

While some patients may suffer long-term plantar fasciitis, most cases of this condition can be conservatively and successfully managed.  If the condition does not resolve or the patient does not notice signs of improvement after 4-6 weeks, I would refer my patient to explore further interventions or tests.  An x-ray or ultrasound would be helpful to rule out heel spurs or other anatomical challenges.  A medical doctor could prescribe anti-inflammatory creams or pills.  Shockwave therapy or steroid injections are other suitable interventions.  In extreme cases, orthopedists may recommend surgery to address chronic and severe muscle shortening.

If you are suffering from plantar fasciitis, please let your Complete Wellness Clinic health professional know.  As you have now discovered, there is a variety of options available to help manage and resolve this painful condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, a tough tissue layer spanning from the heel to the toes. It can result in severe arch and heel pain and is often prompted by factors like poor footwear, prolonged standing, and flat feet.

Can a chiropractor treat plantar fasciitis effectively?

Yes, chiropractors are skilled in assessing gait, joint alignment, and neuromusculoskeletal structures. They can diagnose and treat conditions related to plantar fasciitis, including issues stemming from the pelvis, lumbar spine, calf muscles, or foot joints.

What treatment methods do chiropractors use for plantar fasciitis?

Chiropractic treatment for plantar fasciitis includes addressing misalignments in the foot, lower extremity, pelvis, and lumbar spine, as well as muscle and fascia tension in the leg and foot. Treatments may also involve exercises, custom orthotics, ultrasound, myofascial release, massage therapy, or acupuncture.

What can be done at home to alleviate plantar fasciitis?

Home treatments include using a frozen water bottle or golf ball for foot rolling, using KT tape, stretching the calf muscles, balance and mobility exercises, changing sleep positions, and wearing proper footwear. Night braces or sleeves can also be beneficial​.

What are the next steps if conservative treatment fails?

If conservative treatments do not yield improvement after 4-6 weeks, further interventions like x-rays, ultrasounds, anti-inflammatory medications, shockwave therapy, or steroid injections may be necessary. In severe cases, surgery might be recommended​.