According to a survey of 1,000 people released last year by the American Podiatric Medical Association, more than three-quarters of Americans (77 percent) reported some type of foot pain.
Fifty percent of those surveyed said foot pain has restricted activities such as exercising or walking, which jumped to 83 percent for those who reported chronic foot issues.1 Although foot problems are most common for older people, they can also occur for younger patients in their 20s and 30s.2
One of the most common foot problems is plantar fasciitis. According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), as many as 2 million people in the United States suffer from this painful foot condition. The condition occurs when the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that connects the ball of the foot to the heel, becomes inflamed and painful. The usual telltale sign is if the feet are painful for the first few steps in the morning or after prolonged sitting.3
Plantar fasciitis can occur as a result of improper gait (particularly pronation) to compensate for poorly fitting shoes or an injury, rheumatoid arthritis, or obesity. Standard treatment will often include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), splinting, taping, or cortisone injections.3
Instrument adjusting for plantar fasciitis
Although most instrument-assisted adjustments are for joints, a specific soft tissue technique known as instrument assisted soft tissue manipulation (IASTM) can successfully treat plantar fasciitis. In addition to heating and stretching the sole of the foot, IASTM uses special tools that are designed to access the small areas of the foot and help relieve the pain and inflammation.3
An article in the October 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Chiropractic Association discussed various treatment options for plantar fasciitis. Although successful treatment usually involves a variety of modalities, the authors noted that IASTM treatment for plantar fasciitis “can be extremely effective in a short time and may actually offer relief within the first three treatments.”4
Patients should also do their own self-massage of the affected foot upon first waking, after sitting for prolonged periods, or as part of a pre-exercise stretching routine. This can easily be done by rolling the foot back and forth over a tennis ball placed on the ground. For added relief, a small water bottle filled with water and then frozen can be used in place of the tennis ball.4
Unfortunately, foot pain can often set off a vicious cycle. While walking and exercise help reduce foot pain by using the muscles and tendons of the feet, patients may not be so inclined to walk or exercise until the pain has lessened—this is when chiropractic can really help patients get back on their feet.
1 Day B. “New survey reveals majority of Americans suffer from foot pain.” American Podiatric Medical Association. http://www.apma.org/Media/PRdetail.cfm?ItemNumber=13075. Published May 2014. Accessed February 2015.
2 Tarkan L. “Think of your poor feet.” The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/ref/health/healthguide/esn-footpain-ess.html. Published June 2008. Accessed February 2015.
3 American Chiropractic Association. “Plantar fasciitis.” ACAToday.org. http://www.acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=5290. Accessed February 2015.
4 Aspegren D, Forcum T, Hyde T, Lawson G. Chiropractic round table: Plantar fasciitis and heel pain syndrome. J Amer Chiropr Assoc. 2010:47(5);26–33.