Foot pain is an extremely common complaint with many causes. It is important to accurately diagnose the cause of foot pain in order for appropriate treatment to begin.
Anatomy of the Foot
The foot is made up of 26 bones, which are divided into three sections called the rearfoot, midfoot and forefoot. The talus and calcaneus (heel bone) are the bones that make up the rearfoot. The talus is the highest bone in the foot and it is also part of the ankle. The calcaneus is the largest bone in the foot. It sits below the talus. The navicular, cuboid and the three cuneiforms are the bones that make up the midfoot. The five metatarsals and nine phalanges are the bones that make up the forefoot.
There are three arches in the foot. There is an inner (medial) arch, an outer (lateral) arch and an arch in the forefoot called the transverse arch. Ligaments are like strong ropes that connect bones and provide stability to joints. In the foot there are numerous ligaments that support the arches and stabilise the bones. These ligaments are located on the top (dorsal), bottom (plantar) medial and lateral aspects of the foot.
The plantar fascia is a tough and flexible band of tissue that runs under the sole of the foot. It connects the heel bone with the bones of the foot, and acts as a kind of shock absorber to the foot. Sudden damage, or damage that occurs over many months or years, can cause tiny tears (microtears) to develop inside the tissue of the plantar fascia. This can cause the plantar fascia to thicken and inflame, resulting in heel and foot pain.
You’re more likely to have plantar fasciitis if you:
- increase the amount of running you do
- wear the wrong type of footwear
- have poor body movement (biomechanics)
- have poor calf flexibility
Plantar fasciitis is very treatable by your chiropractor. For successful treatment your chiropractor may employ several techniques at once including:
- a stretching routine for the plantar fascia, calf muscle and Achilles tendon
- strapping or taping to support the plantar fascia and relieve symptoms
- biomechanical assessment and computerised gait analysis
- strengthening exercises for the muscles in your foot
- orthotics which may be bespoke or premade
- massage and trigger point therapy
- foot and ankle joint mobilisation and manipulation
- electrotherapy in the form of ultrasound
With plantar fasciitis it is easy to ignore the pain and hope the injury goes away because once the area is warmed up through movement, the pain will go away and you will be able to run and walk on your injured foot. Unfortunately with time the injury becomes much harder to treat and may take longer to heal.