Ice Your Foot After Treatment
Probably the most common cause of foot and heel pain, plantar fasciitis is a repetitive stress injury to the plantar fascia on the bottom of the foot. Plantar Fascia is the flat band of tissue, or more commonly known as a ligament, that runs along the bottom of your foot. It connects your heel bone to your toes and supports the arch of your foot. When you strain or hurt the plantar fascia, it becomes weak, irritated, and inflamed, causing plantar fasciitis.
The symptoms for plantar fasciitis are a gradual onset, they don't immediately appear after injuring the plantar fascia. The gradual onset of pain will usually start in the heel and can sometimes radiate down toward the arch of your foot. You can also experience tenderness on the soles of your feet and the inside of your heel when pressed on. Depending on how bad the injury is, the pain can range from mild discomfort to so painful you can barely put pressure on it. Pain for plantar fasciitis is worse in the morning because your foot has been in a relaxed position all night, allowing the plantar fascia to temporarily shorten. When you get up and begin moving your foot, the plantar fascia warms up and stretches which causes the pain to decrease slightly.
Treatment for plantar fasciitis is directed at decreasing the chronic inflammation of the plantar fascia, stretching tight muscles, and encouraging proper healing of the fascia. Initially you will want to start with home treatments which includes lots of rest and ice therapy. By decreasing the activity and pounding forces to the soft tissue muscles, tendons, and ligaments, the tissue is given a chance to heal and recover. Many people think plantar fasciitis should heal within a few days, but they often wait too long before seeking treatment or reducing their activity, which results in severe damage to the plantar fasciitis that requires weeks to heal.
Changing footwear is very beneficial to anybody experiencing foot pain. Wearing more supportive shoes that absorb the forces while walking, standing, and running remove those forces from the plantar fascia, which means the tissue is not exposed to as much trauma and has a better chance to heal and recover. You can also use night splints and orthotics to decrease stress and support the arch and fascia. Over the counter nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as recommended by your doctor, can help reduce pain and inflammation, as well.
If home treatments don't work in reducing your pain, the next step is active treatment which involves physiotherapy to decrease inflammation of the plantar fascia through electrical stimulation and ultrasound. Stretching of the calves and hamstrings will also reduce stress and improve your walking mechanics: another key component of therapy. Proper proprioceptive and foot strengthening exercises prescribed by your healthcare provider will further strengthen your foot and decrease stress on the plantar fascia.
Specific balance exercises can be given to increase foot strength and endurance. Often times patients have weakness in their ability to stand on one foot with their eyes closed while maintaining their balance. This lack of proprioceptive ability results in excessive strain on the lower leg and foot during running. Properly strengthening these muscles helps relieve stress on the tissues and ultimately allows the fascia to heal. Exercises can be performed on the ground, unstable surface such as a BOSU ball, foam, or vibration plate. The more difficult and challenging the surface the more the body is challenged and will improve.
However, it can be difficult to successfully treat plantar fasciitis because the cycles of inflammation and healing need to be taken into account. Cycles of stress, rest, stress, and rest often produces improper scar tissue formation on the fascia. Scar tissue is essentially a temporary patch until the injured area can heal correctly. In many cases, however, the foot often ends up with patches of scar tissue that become injured daily with standing and therefore the foot never heals correctly. A very successful treatment that aims to break up the scar tissue and allows the plantar fascia to heal correctly is the Graston Technique.
Graston technique is one of most effective treatments at improving plantar fasciitis. It can be used on all of the lower leg muscles and the bottom of the foot, along the plantar fascia. Graston technique utilizes stainless steel instruments specifically designed to break up scar tissue by sheer force. When the tools slide along the skin they help pull one layer of tissue past another. The scar tissue that has developed from the micro tearing of the fascia is pulled apart, which triggers the body's healing mechanisms to come in and repair the fibers. Oftentimes scar tissue has developed along the plantar fascia from years of standing, walking, and running. Graston technique helps break up the scar tissue throughout the fascia. Treatment from the Graston Technique increases the speed of healing and quickly reduces the sharp pain.
While the Graston Technique is great at breaking up the scar tissue surrounding the plantar fascia and kicking the body's healing mechanisms into gear, tenderness can arise after treatment. When the scar tissue breaks up, inflammatory chemicals are released which increase tenderness to the touch for your foot. Patients who regularly ice after Graston Technique on the foot do not experience much pain or irritation. People who don't ice may experience more tenderness and even swelling on the bottom of the foot. Ice is your friend. Ice frequently and often with graston technique for plantar fasciitis treatments.