Among other healing modalities is the fast-rising laser treatment for plantar fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common foot-pain complaints that you are likely hear from your patients, particularly if they are between the ages of 40-60.1
In fact, an average of one million patients each year visit their doctor for treatment related to plantar fasciitis. Given the prevalence of plantar fasciitis, it is perhaps worthwhile to look at some of the advances in treatment of this condition.
Most standard treatment involves stretching, ice or heat as needed, and foot orthotics. However, some intriguing recent research shows promising results from laser treatment for plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis wear and tear
The plantar fascia ligament connects the heel to the front of the foot, supporting the arch and serving as a shock absorber for walking, running, or jumping.1
As you might expect, the plantar fascia gets a great deal of wear and tear over an average person’s lifetime. By the time a person reaches their 40s, excess pressure on the plantar fascia ligaments that has been building up over the decades can damage or tear them. This will lead to inflammation, heel pain, and stiffness.
This can be further exacerbated by the fact that ligaments, tendons, and body tissue naturally lose elasticity as part of the body’s natural aging process.1
Plantar Fasciitis risks
Obesity is perhaps the largest risk factor for plantar fasciitis, accounting for approximately 70% of cases.1
Other factors can include a sedentary lifestyle, joint issues, or sitting or standing for extended periods of time at work. Certain types of exercise that place stress on the heel, such as long-distance running, basketball and dancing, can also lead to, or exacerbate plantar fasciitis. Finally, people with structural foot issues, such as flat feet or unusually high arches are also at higher risk of developing plantar fasciitis.1
A 2015 article published in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery studied the effect of low-level laser treatment for plantar fasciitis on 69 subjects with unilateral, chronic plantar fasciitis.2
Subjects were randomized to receive either a placebo treatment or laser therapy twice a week for three weeks. Their pain was rated at baseline and at weeks 1, 2, 3, 6, and 8. Pain was measured on a visual analog scale and using sonography to measure thickness of the fascia before and after treatment. At the follow-up visit, subjects who underwent laser treatment for plantar fasciitis showed statistically significant improvement in heel pain.2
A more recent article in the journal Medicine (Baltimore) used the 2015 article as part of a meta-analysis to pool together the findings of several smaller studies on laser treatment for plantar fasciitis.3
This type of study is designed to improve the strength of the individual studies by looking for similar patterns among their findings. In this case, the researchers found that subjects treated with low-level lasers saw improvement in heel pain that lasted for up to three months after treatment.3
Given both the need for your older patients to exercise and the prevalence of plantar fasciitis, understanding how to treat it is vital. Fortunately, innovative treatment, such as laser therapy, can get your patients striding back toward better health and increased mobility
- Mayo Clinic. Plantar fasciitis. mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/plantar-fasciitis/basics/definition/con-20025664 Updated March 7, 2018. Accessed Oct. 25, 2019.
- Macias DM, Coughlin MJ, Zang K, et al. Low-level laser therapy at 635 nm for treatment of chronic plantar fasciitis: A placebo-controlled, randomized study. Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery. 2015 Sep-Oct;54(5):768-772.
- Wang W, Jiang W, Tang C, et al. Clinical efficacy of low-level laser therapy in plantar fasciitis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2019;98(3):e14088.