According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the most common causes of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. While rest and ice help with any inflammatory condition, chiropractors can also help decrease heel pain. Through the use of stretches, exercises, adjusting and in-office physical therapy modalities, a pain-free lifestyle may be obtained.
Plantar fasciitis is caused by inflammation of a thick ligament (plantar fascia) on the bottom of the foot. Typically pain will be felt in the heel in the morning and will be less irritating as the body warms up with movement. The Mayo Clinic states this pain may be felt again during walking after a long period of sitting.
Specific tests will be done in a chiropractic office to ensure the problem is caused by plantar fasciitis and not something like a stress fracture, both of which are caused by trauma or chronic overuse. An article published in “Dynamic Chiropractic” in March 2000, states that adjustments of the foot and ankle joints with emphasis on the subtalar joint (calcaneous or heel bone) proves to be most useful in combination with other therapies.
Ultrasound is a procedure done in office. Ultrasound will provide a deep heat to the fascia that will increase circulation to help promote healing and decrease inflammation and pain. The March article on “Clinical Considerations: Plantar Fasciitis,” published by “Dynamic Chiropractic,” states an increase in pain during ultrasound is an indicator of a stress fracture, and treatment with ultrasound should not be continued.
In-office and home stretches will be very important to helping the plantar fascia heal. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) says that the plantar fascia is aggravated by tight muscles in the foot and lower leg. One specific stretch is the wall stretch for the calf muscle: lean forward against a wall with one leg extended backward with knee straight, and the other bent and toward the wall. Leaning in toward the wall with the hips should create a pulling or stretching sensation in the straight leg. Each stretch should be done up to 20 times and held for 10 seconds each time. There are also assisted stretches the chiropractor will do in-office and will teach you to do at home with a partner.
Proper arch and foot support will help the plantar fascia absorb stress and heal. AAOS says that those with high arches, obesity or who do repetitive running or weight-bearing activities are more likely to have plantar fascia problems. Heel pads, arch supports or custom orthotics all help absorb shock in the foot and distribute the weight more evenly across the foot, helping to decrease strain on the fascia. Some chiropractors may have molds or programs to help make custom orthotics, or may recommend certain brands of support based on symptoms and severity of the fasciitis.