If you consider the fact that every time you take a step, there is some impact on your heel, you realize that the bottoms of your feet take a beating. If you engage in higher-impact exercise, it’s very likely that you’ll develop a condition known as plantar fasciitis, which is also referred to as “jogger’s heel,” “policeman’s heel,” or “heel spurs.” Even if you aren’t a runner, however, there’s still a chance you’ll develop this painful condition.
You may be able to alleviate the symptoms by resting and applying ice packs, but many patients require a more proactive approach to deal with plantar fasciitis. This article will discuss the causes, symptoms, and common treatments of plantar fasciitis, and it will introduce you to a highly effective therapy that has been getting patients back on their feet without the pain: chiropractic shockwave therapy.
Chiropractic shockwave therapy is also referred to as extracorporeal shockwave therapy, or ESWT for short. While ESWT has broad applications, it has been proven to be extremely effective in treating plantar fasciitis, and the patients at ChiroCare of Florida have seen remarkable results from shockwave therapy for plantar fasciitis.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue comprised mostly of ligaments that connect your heel to your toes, inside the arch of the foot. Because there are also numerous pain receptors along this area, injuries to the region can be quite painful. Plantar fasciitis is the result of inflammation along parts or all of the plantar fascia.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
One of the most prominent symptoms of plantar fasciitis is a sharp, stabbing pain. This may feel similar to the type of pain one feels when they have a sharp stone in their shoe or sock, which is why the condition is often referred to as “heel spurs.” Other symptoms can include swelling, stiffness, or tenderness. The conditions that lead to heel pain can also be a clue that it's caused by plantar fasciitis. For instance, many people only experience pain when they first wake up or only during exercise. With plantar fasciitis, the most intense pain is close to the plantar fascia, but it can radiate to other parts of the feet or leg.
Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
There are multiple ways that a patient can get plantar fasciitis. Among the more common causes of plantar fasciitis are repetitive stress or impacts, improperly fitting footwear, genetic anomalies that affect the shape of the foot, and more. Even the way a person walks can result in plantar fasciitis.
How Common is Plantar Fasciitis?
One in ten people will experience plantar fasciitis at some point in their lifetime. Furthermore, two million Americans are treated for the condition every year with the assumption that there are many more who go untreated. Statistically, plantar fasciitis disproportionately affects women in their 40s to their 60s, overweight individuals, and athletes.
Traditional Treatments vs. Chiropractic Approaches
Treatment approaches depend on the severity of the patient’s plantar fasciitis and the background of the medical professional. In mild cases, patients may be able to treat their injury with rest and by applying ice at 15-minute intervals throughout the day.
There are numerous approaches for more severe cases, however. It’s important to realize that traditional medicine and chiropractic medicine often share approaches. For instance, a podiatrist and a chiropractor may both recommend stretching to alleviate and improve the plantar fasciitis condition. Similarly, a chiropractor may recommend a change in footwear if they believe that shoes are contributing to the issue. Medical professionals put the well-being of the patient before other considerations.
Traditional Medical Treatments
A podiatrist treating plantar fasciitis may recommend orthotic devices or inserts that are meant to correct fallen arches. There are also some medical interventions that a doctor may prescribe, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) to temporarily reduce the swelling. One common treatment involves injecting the foot with corticosteroids, like cortisone, to reduce pain and swelling. Corticosteroids are not a permanent solution but often provide longer-term relief. In severe cases, traditional doctors may even recommend surgery to address the issue.,
Chiropractors treat the underlying causes of the plantar fasciitis, usually forgoing solutions that only treat the pain. For example, a chiropractor may recommend massage if they believe that muscle tension in the calf is the cause of the inflammation of the plantar fascia. A chiropractor may also prescribe physical therapy exercises to stretch the region or retrain a behavior that has been causing the inflammation and pain. As was previously mentioned, extracorporeal shock wave therapy is highly effective. Many patients prefer treating conditions like plantar fasciitis through chiropractic medicine because it doesn’t involve drugs or surgery.
Chiropractic Shockwave Therapy
Most patients are aware that acoustic waves are used to treat a variety of medical conditions, in particular, those that deal with joint and other musculoskeletal injuries. With regard to plantar fasciitis, ESWT has an astounding 95% success rate. Here’s how it works.
1. The ESWT Machine
A shockwave machine produces soundwaves that a patient can physically feel on the souls of their feet. While this sounds like it may be painful, the intensity is low enough so that most patients are comfortable when the machine is in use. The EWST machine is designed so that the waves can be focused on a specific area of the body.
2. Target the Affected Area
When applied to the outside of an affected area, like the skin above the plantar fascia, the shockwaves penetrate the damaged tissue
3. Mechanical Effects
The pulsing effect of the shockwaves creates minute bubbles in the body fluids that open and burst. This increases blood flow as well as creating an inflammatory response, which will trigger the body’s immune system and promote healing. The shockwaves can also help to break down scar tissue, which can contribute to inflammation in the region.
Most patients feel incremental reductions in pain at the three-week, six-week, and twelve-week marks. However, many patients report improvement after the first treatment.
Evidence of Efficacy: Shockwave Therapy's 95% Success Rate
The efficacy of ESWT for plantar fasciitis has been demonstrated via multiple studies. In a 2020 study conducted by a team of Brazilian orthopedists, researchers demonstrated that shockwave therapy improved the condition in over 90% of a 60-person sample group with a 95% confidence interval — meaning that 95% of participants had the expected outcome.
Another 2021 study entitled “Evaluation of plantar fasciitis improvement after shock wave therapy in calcaneal spur patients by musculoskeletal ultrasonography” reported a reduction of the plantar fascia thickness in the majority of patients.
The Chiropractic Advantage
Because chiropractors deal almost exclusively with injuries and conditions related to the musculoskeletal system, they tend to have more practical experience dealing with conditions like plantar fasciitis. At ChiroCare of Florida, our chiropractic teams have successfully used electroshock therapy on hundreds of patients with plantar fasciitis and similar injuries. Because of the high degree of success among patients, our confidence in successful outcomes is extremely high. Schedule a consultation with a member of our team today.
Preparing for Your Shockwave Therapy Session
Before you undergo shockwave therapy for plantar fasciitis or another condition, you should take the following measures.
- Discuss all medical conditions that might affect your treatment with your chiropractor.
- Make certain you ask the doctor about any questions or concerns you might have about the procedure.
- Disclose all medicines that you are taking. Your doctor may ask you to discontinue a medication prior to treatment. They will, of course, determine the overall effects on your health before asking you to discontinue any medicine.
- Don’t fast. In fact, it may be beneficial to have a light meal or snack prior to your treatment.
- A single session may not mitigate your pain, so if you believe you will be unable to drive, have a family member or friend take you home after the session.
Each therapy session could take up to one hour, so ensure that you have allowed enough time in your schedule for your appointment.
Frequently Asked Questions
The following are some of the most commonly asked questions the ChiroCare team hears from our plantar fasciitis patients. For answers to your questions, schedule an appointment and initial examination today.
What Other Conditions Can Shockwave Therapy Treat?
ESWT is particularly effective on tendons and ligaments, so chiropractors frequently recommend it for patients who suffer from these types of conditions. In addition to plantar fasciitis, chiropractors frequently recommend it for knee pain, tennis elbow, and back pain.
How Long Does Shockwave Therapy Take to Work?
Some patients notice immediate improvement after the first session, but most patients take 6 to 12 weeks to realize full results.
Is Shockwave Therapy Covered By Insurance?
Naturally, insurance coverage varies by policy and company. However, Chirocare of Florida does accept most major insurance carriers, many of which cover these types of treatments. Contact our office for specific information about your policy.
Taking the Next Step Towards Pain-Free Living
Most people are prone to plantar fasciitis at some point in their lives. If you have chronic or recurring heel pain that you believe might be plantar fasciitis, shockwave therapy may be effective in healing your injury or alleviating your pain. Find out why so many chiropractors recommend ESWT for their patients. Contact ChiroCare of Florida today to achieve pain-free living.