Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
Overuse and Overloading
The main cause of plantar fasciitis is overuse and overloading the plantar fascia.
There are many factors which are job related that can put added stress on your feet. Jobs where you are on your feet all day (teachers, store clerks, soldiers, waitresses, hostesses). Activities that require you to push heavy items (shippers and receivers, construction workers). Sporting activities in which you overexert yourself (doing too much, too fast and/or too soon), especially football, baseball, basketball, tennis, volleyball, step-aerobics, stair climbing and dancing. Running on your toes or the balls of your feet, on very hard or soft surfaces, and up hills can increase your risk and suffering.
Weekend warriors or people who have a rapid change in their activity levels are prone to this condition. One of the 5 most common foot and ankle injuries for professional athletes is plantar fasciitis.
Your plantar fascia is only able to stretch to 102% of its length without tearing; therefore it may not be strong enough to withstand the stress placed on it by your lifestyle.
Approximately 90% of women and 40% of men with plantar fasciitis are overweight. Obesity or sudden weight increases can overstretch and increase the tension placed on your plantar fascia. The additional weight gained during pregnancy along with the hormonal changes can cause your ligaments and tissues to relax, which increases your risk for this condition.
Another common causes of Plantar Fasciitis is the shortening of the plantar fascia. If your foot is held for long periods of time in a position where your toes are pointed, the plantar fascia may become shortened. Within the body muscles, tendons, or ligaments that are in a shortened position for any length of time will become tighter and shorter. Image the neck of a T-shirt that becomes permanently deformed if it is stretched too much.
Faulty foot structures such as abnormal growths, different leg lengths, arch variations, and unhealed injuries , muscle imbalances (tight, weak or shortened muscles in your foot, ankle, calf and hamstring) and abnormal twisting of your foot (poor biomechanics) affect the way your foot hits the ground (your gait).
Feet rolling inward (overpronation) is found in 85% of people who suffer from plantar fasciitis. These individuals tend to have a low arch and flat foot (pes planus). Those who feet rolling outward (underpronate) tend to have rigid feet and a high arch (pes cavus) which results in a shortened plantar fascia. These issues place increased pressure on your plantar fascia when your foot hits the ground.
As you age your tissues break down and weaken; your plantar fascia changes from an elastic-like fiber to a more rigid, rope-like fiber, the fat pad in your heel thins out and doesn't provide as much cushioning, which cause it to swell, bruise and/or tear.
Worn out, old, poorly constructed shoes that don't fit properly or don't support your heel or arch affect the distribution of your body weight on your foot and add undue stress to your plantar fascia. High heeled shoes commonly worn by women are famous for leading to the eventual shortening of the plantar fascia. They don't just shorten the plantar fascia, they shorten the calf muscles as well. Whenever you stand on your toes these muscles contract and shorten. Tight calf muscles can increase the problems associated with Plantar Fasciitis.
Other factors that may cause plantar fasciitis are:
- Neurological disorders that affect the brain or nervous system (nerve damage from tarsal tunnel syndrome, tibial/plantar/calcaneal nerve entrapment or irritation)
- Diabetes, Osteoarthritis and Inflammatory disorders - rheumatoid arthritis, Reiter's disease, Behcet syndrome, ankylosing spondylitis, spondyloarthropathies, diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis, bowel disease, psoriasis, fibromyalgia
- Disk herniation
- Stress fractures of calcaneus or bone tumors
Re-occurring or chronic plantar fasciitis
Scar tissue is a major contributor to re-occurring or chronic plantar fasciitis. During the healing process your body will fill in tears in your fascia with dense, brittle tissue called "scar tissue". The human body will use scar tissue as a temporary solution and will try to build the scar tissue as fast as possible to heal a tear in the fascia ligament. Scar tissue can form fast to bring together the edges of a tear, but working fast doesn't mean that the job's done right. When scar tissue forms it doesn't come together as neatly as regular (healthy) plantar fascia tissue would. Scar tissue fibers will lay down over top of your tear in a cluttered, messy and jumbled up way.
Imagine throwing a bunch of drinking straws in the air... When those straws hit the ground they will land in a random, unorganized way. It even seems silly to think that those straws could land perfectly straight and all in the same direction.
This is how scar tissue works. The scar tissue that forms on your plantar fascia will be unorganized and won't line up properly with the healthy tissue surrounding the tear. This scar tissue will also attach to everything in and around your plantar fascia including the surrounding healthy tissue as well. This can result in a long-term fusing together of your ligament that stiffens your foot reducing your range of motion and strength. Making your condition even more painful!
Plantar Fasciitis Treatments
Conservative treatments are the best way to treat plantar fasciitis. However, it can take months to years to heal depending on your situation and commitment to treatment (6 weeks to 8 months or longer). To improve healing time and treat your pain naturally, cold compression therapy, therapeutic ultrasound, and Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ are recommended. More than 90% of people with plantar fasciitis will improve within 10 months of starting a simple conservative treatment methods. (source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons)
Cold Compression Therapy
When you are experiencing pain, swelling, and inflammation in the bottom of your foot, the step is cold compression therapy. Cold compression therapy reduces tissue damage caused by swelling and inflammation and treats your foot pain quickly.
Cold compression therapy works by interrupting and slowing nerve and cell function in the damaged area. This is important because once blood vessels are damaged, they can no longer carry oxygenated blood to the plantar fascia and tissue cells begin to break-down.
Although RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) can help to treat your plantar symptoms, ice and freezer gel packs reach temperatures so low they can cause cryoburn, an ice burn on your skin. The problem is, up until now there hasn't been another option to treat painful conditions and injuries, so ice and freezer gel packs have been the only choice.
Fortunately, you no longer have to settle for these ice cold methods that are uncomfortably cold against your skin, provide short term relief, cause ice burns, and numb your skin and underlying tissue beyond feeling so you don't even notice the ice burn until it's too late. This is the ColdCure Technology® Advantage. The Plantar/Spur Freezie Wrap® allows you to treat yourself in an effective, convenient way, and gives you pain relief!
The cooling gel pack inside every Freezie Wrap® have been designed with ColdCure Technology®. The specially formulated gel allows the pack to be supercharged in the fridge, not in the freezer like ice or other freezer packs. The Freezie Wrap® gives you deep cold compression therapy without the risk of 'cold burns' or cryoburn to the layers of your skin. This unique technology, inside a soft and completely adjustable neoprene wrap, gives you comfortable, convenient, and effective cold compression therapy. The specially designed Freezie Wrap® has an adjustable compression band so you can control the amount of pressure that feels good around your foot.
Click here to learn more about ColdCure Technology®
Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™
Once inflammation and swelling have been reduced in your plantar fascia, nourishing and strengthening the tissue in your foot is the goal. Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ (BFST®) promotes blood flow to the treatment area bringing the necessary oxygen and nutrients to your plantar fascia and other weakened tissue. BFST® speeds up the body's natural repair process for faster healing, softening scar tissue and encouraging the growth of health tissue.
Extremities of the body, like the foot, do not receive much blood flow naturally and when you stop moving your foot because it hurts, you are not creating the natural blood flow it usually receives. With the use of Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ you can increase your body's blood supply to the plantar fascia.
In addition, the fresh blood flow whisks away dead cells and toxins (including lactic acid, commonly found in trigger points) that have built up from the injury leaving the area clean and better prepared for healing. Our Plantar/Spur Inferno Wrap® provides effective, non-invasive, non-addictive pain relief with no side effects.
Keeping your plantar fascia and foot as healthy and strong as possible throughout the healing process will allow you to get back to your regular activities faster. The Plantar/Spur Inferno Wrap®, available exclusively from MendMeShop®, provides effective, non-invasive, non-addictive pain relief and healing with no side effects.
The benefits of BFST® do not end once your foot pain stops! Even when your plantar fascia has healed, your activities can put it at risk of an overuse injury, tightness, or another tear. An Inferno Wrap® treatment before activity is an easy way to warm up the tissues and prepare them for use. Then, end your day with another treatment to prevent tightness from setting in overnight. This incredible healing tool will be the ticket to healthy feet for years to come!
Click here to learn more about BFST®
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Using therapeutic ultrasound will soften scar tissue as your body heals as well as breaking down any scar tissue that may have already formed. How? Ultrasound uses a sound-wave to cause 'cellular fraction'; the cells rub against each other to encourage the brake down of scar tissue.
Ultrasound can also administer therapeutic medicines deep into the body through a process called phonophoresis.
For those who suffer from other conditions such as heel spurs or tendinitis, ultrasound can help. With dedication to your ultrasound therapy you can soften the tough and inelastic scar tissue and reduce inflammation.
If you are also experiencing pain in other parts of your body, your plantar pain may be the cause. Plantar fasciitis can lead to other overuse injuries if left untreated. The pain can cause you to re-adjust your posture and change your gait to take weight off your sore foot. This can cause excess strain in your back, knees, hips, and ankles. The Mendix™ Ultrasound System can be used to treat all of your strains and tears, as well as other painful conditions like bursitis, tendinitis, and joint pain. It is a great tool to have on hand for so many soft tissue injuries! Click here to learn more about Ultrasound Therapy
Enhance Your Ultrasound Treatments With Phonophoresis
When using an ultrasound unit, proper conductive ultrasound gel is required. Without it, the sound waves will not transfer into the tissue making the treatment ineffective. Although you will receive all the benefits of ultrasound therapy with standard ultrasound gel, medicated ultrasound gel can multiply the benefits without any extra time or effort. All you have to do is use medicated gel instead of standard ultrasound gel during your treatments.
Here's how it works! The sound waves carry the medicinal molecules found inside the gel deep into your tissue. This process is known as phonophoresis and it increases the healing power of therapeutic ultrasound.
Our exclusive MendMeShop® Lavender Infusion Gel is specially formulated with Natural Bulgarian Lavender, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, and Menthol. These ingredients have been used for centuries to reduce inflammation and relax tissue to speed healing. Now they are available in this incredible ultrasound gel to give you 2 therapies in 1 treatment. You get the benefit of the regenerating sound waves from the ultrasound device itself AND the added bonus of the therapeutic ingredients inside the gel being delivered straight to your plantar fascia where it is most effective to reduce your foot pain and speed healing. And that's not all - our Lavender Infusion Ultrasound Gel is free of the potentially harmful ingredients of paraben, DEA, or dyes.
1 FREE bottle of MendMeShop® Lavender Infusion Ultrasound Gel comes with every Mendix™ Ultrasound System. If you have skin sensitivities or are sensitive to scents, you have the option of using our Non-Fragrant Ultrasound Gel with your Mendix™ Ultrasound System. Just like our Lavender Infusion Gel, it does not contain paraben, DEA, or dyes!
During your recovery, you will probably have to modify and/or eliminate any activities that cause pain or discomfort in your foot until your pain and inflammation settle. With these EASY therapies you will notice great improvement within a few weeks, with most patients seeing some improvement quickly. The more diligent you are with your treatment and rehabilitation, the faster you will see successful results. If you start using your plantar fascia before it has a chance to heal properly (even though it may feel better), you can end up doing a lot more damage than good!