Active & injury free: What a pain in the…heel

By Dr. Tom Cotter

You wake up in the morning with a sinking feeling in your heart: You know the first step out of bed is going to be painful.

Dr. Tom Cotter and Dr. Jeff Remsburg

If you have ever experienced plantar fasciitis (PF), you know that feeling all too well. If not, that is the classic description of someone suffering from chronic heel pain associated with PF. The plantar fascia is an elastic structure on the bottom of the foot designed to assist the foot in returning from pronation to supination.
A fair amount of people in today’s society suffer from irritation of the plantar fascia – plantar fasciitis. This malady has plagued people and the medical world for years. Treatments range from taking an Advil to surgically releasing the plantar fascia. There are numerous, opposing factors that cause PF. The following scenarios are common among those suffering from PF: wearing high heels all day shortens the plantar fascia; going for a run after work suddenly stretches the plantar fascia.

The rapid change in length of the fascia can cause PF. A sudden increase in walking up hills or stairs can also lead to PF. During pregnancy, flattening of the mother’s feet causes stretching of the fascia, which can then become aggravated and end in PF. And sometimes PF seems to just come out of thin air.

The causes range from tight calves to weakness in the intrinsic foot musculature to poor bony structure of the foot. Therefore, no one treatment can cure every case. These causes are also rarely addressed when people elect to undergo surgery, which accounts for the high failure rate of surgeries to alleviate PF.

The willingness of a patient to get involved in treatment helps us decide a treatment plan. Ideally, we do some soft tissue work (Graston, ART or dry needling) on the plantar fascia and surrounding tissues. We make sure all of the joints in the foot, knee, and hip are moving properly. We then send the patient home with simple stretches and exercises. This option is very successful for most people who are willing to spend the time doing the exercises. If you aren’t motivated enough to do the exercises — and we understand that this happens — we can also make custom orthotics. The goal is to avoid surgery and get the foot to function and control itself properly — on its own or with the assistance of orthotics.

If you or someone you know has PF, don’t give up hope. We have a solution.

This weekly sponsored post is written by Dr. Tom Cotter and Dr. Jeff Remsburg of Active Health Solutions, a Prairie Village-based chiropractor and rehab practice that uses the most current evidence-based protocols and techniques to assess and treat patients with neuromusculoskeletal conditions (disorders of the nerves, joints, and muscles). Call 913-341-1200 or email to schedule your appointment today.