You may not think much about your calves and feet until something goes wrong. This is often the case when it comes to plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendon strain. Both of these conditions can wreak havoc on your exercise regimen or even walking or standing.
Plantar fasciitis is a fairly common cause of heel pain. Your plantar fascia is a long and thin ligament that runs from your heel to the front of your foot, ending just under your toes. It supports the arch under your foot, and stretches and relaxes with every step you take. Even though your plantar fascia is meant to act like a shock absorber, it’s possible to put too much strain on it, which can inflame or tear the tissue.
Additionally, heel spurs are often associated with plantar fasciitis. A heel spur is a bony protrusion that is found on the bottom of your heel bone. While heel spurs don’t necessarily cause foot pain, they often develop from the repeated pulling on the ligaments and plantar fascia that support the arch of your foot. They develop over time, and frequently occur in athletes whose sport includes a great deal of running or jumping.
The main symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain on the bottom of your foot, under your heel. Factors that increase your chances of developing plantar fasciitis include having tight calf muscles, a very high arch, being overweight, participating in running sports, and a recent and dramatic increase in your level of physical activity. In addition, some systemic health conditions, such as diabetes or thyroid issues may increase your risk for developing plantar fasciitis.
Achilles Tendon Strain
Your Achilles is a large and strong tendon found at the back of your foot, just above your heel. It connects your calf muscles to your calcaneus (heel bone). Achilles tendon strain, or tendinitis is also a common injury in sports that involve running, or jumping. It occurs when the tendon is overused and becomes inflamed, swollen, or irritated. In some cases, the tendon is injured to the point that it can begin to tear. The tendon may partially tear, or completely rupture, in which the fibers separate from your calf muscles. A complete rupture of your Achilles tendon may need to be surgically repaired.
The symptoms of Achilles tendonitis or strain include pain above your heel, leg stiffness on rising in the morning, pain aggravated by exercising, pain going up stairs or going uphill, swelling of the tendon, and weakness of your lower leg. Symptoms of a rupture of your Achilles tendon include actually hearing the tendon pop, extreme pain, swelling and bruising, and not being able to stand on your toes.
Some common causes of Achilles tendon strain and inflammation include tight calf muscles, increasing your activity level too quickly, poorly fitting or non-supportive footwear, running up hills or on an uneven surface, weak calf muscles, flat arches that cause your feet to roll inward, and intense exercise before your body is warmed up.
Helping You Recover from Plantar Fasciitis and Achilles Tendon Strain
At BodaHealth, we understand that it can be a long and frustrating journey coming back from plantar fasciitis or an Achilles tendon injury. However, we’re here to help you do just that, and we have a number of effective therapies with a good track record in treating these injuries. Below are treatment strategies that we may employ in the treatment of plantar fasciitis and Achilles injuries, and how they can help you get back to your active lifestyle.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. Research has documented that acupuncture is an effective way to relieve the pain from plantar fasciitis. Beyond pain relief, however, acupuncture works to decrease inflammation, promote circulation, and stimulate healing in both plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendon strains. For patients with systemic conditions that may contribute to connective tissue weakness, Chinese herbs may also be prescribed.
Shockwave Therapy. Shock wave therapy is especially effective for pain relief and to stimulate healing in connective tissue. Despite being a relatively new therapy, scientists researching the use of shock wave therapy found it can help relieve chronic pain related to plantar fasciitis. Using pulsed acoustic (sound) waves, shockwave therapy works by speeding the healing process because it stimulates your metabolism, breaks down scar tissue, and promotes circulation in the treated area to regenerate healthy tissue. It can be used to treat pathological changes in your tendons, ligaments, joint capsules, muscles, and bones.
Acupoint Injection Therapy. Acupoint injection therapy, or AIT, blends the use of the acupuncture points (acupoints) with therapeutic injections for an effective way to treat a wide variety of pain. AIT consists of injecting one or more substances into acupuncture points or tender spots to relieve pain and enhance healing. While a number of substances that may be used with AIT, at BodaHealth, we frequently use a combination of B vitamins and/or procaine. We use B vitamins because they’re an important component in cellular growth, the formation of blood and protein, and in tissue repair. If your pain is severe, procaine may also be added. Procaine is a local anesthetic, but it also acts as a vasodilator to increase circulation and reduce inflammation in the area that has been injected.
Osteopathy. Because both plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendon strains are frequently the result of musculoskeletal issues, such as tight calf muscles, a flat arch, or pronation, osteopathy can be an effective way to treat these conditions and prevent future occurrences. Our osteopathic practitioner is highly trained and experienced in the hands-on manipulation used to help correct poor biomechanics, improve circulation, and relieve pain.
Naturopathic Medicine. In some cases underlying health conditions contribute to connective tissue problems, which is where naturopathy can help. At BodaHealth, our naturopathic physicians will thoroughly assess your health to uncover any deficiencies, depletions, or imbalances that may be affecting your overall health, as well as the health of your connective tissue. Our naturopaths can then prescribe herbs, supplements, dietary modifications, and lifestyle strategies to balance your body as a whole, reduce inflammation, and help you heal. In addition, our naturopathic physicians can provide primary health care to our patients, as they are able to order lab tests, prescribe medications, and perform injections.
Therapeutic Exercise, Clinical Pilates, and Kinesiology. These one-on-one treatments can be helpful in treating plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendon strains. Therapeutic exercise sessions include movements designed to correct musculoskeletal imbalances, restore function, improve strength, increase flexibility, and decrease pain. Clinical Pilates is also provided in individual sessions, in which our practitioner will work with you to condition your entire body to help elongate tight muscles, improve muscle elasticity, and promote joint mobility. The goal of these therapies is to help you return to full function, enjoy activities with greater ease, and reduce the chance of further injury.
Kinesiology and Exercise Physiology. Our kinesiology practitioner is a certified exercise physiologist, who is able to assess your injury and provide a plan for rehabilitation and prevention of further injury. Using balance, mobility, ergonomics, and stability as her tools, our kinesiologist can help you understand the mechanics of how you move, the nature of your connective tissue injury, suggest a plan for rehabilitation, and provide strategies for injury-free movement.
Massage Therapy and Fascial Stretch. The nature of both plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendon strains is tightness in your muscles and connective tissue. Massage is an excellent way to help relax and loosen tight muscles, and can focus on your calves, lower legs, and feet. Your fascia is a type of connective tissue that surrounds and connects your muscles, as well as all the other organs and tissue in your body. Fascial stretch works to improve flexibility and mobility by focusing on the fascial lines that surround your muscles. Both massage therapy and fascial stretch are gentle, and are meant to help relax both you and your muscles.
For patients who are struggling with plantar fasciitis or an Achilles tendon strain, it may feel like it’s taking forever to heal. At BodaHealth, we get that. Our goal with these kinds of injuries is to provide you with a number of therapeutic options to help reduce your pain, decrease inflammation, speed up your healing process, and prevent future injuries. If you’re struggling with plantar fasciitis or an Achilles tendon problem, we’re here to help. Call us today to find out how.