By Dava Stewart
The plantar ligament is a thick band of tissue that runs from the heel, along the bottom of the foot, to all five toes, and it is responsible for absorbing a great deal of shock when a person walks or runs. Approximately 80 percent of all reported foot pain in the U.S. is due to some sort of damage to, and inflammation of, that ligament — a condition referred to as plantar fasciitis.1 Any kind of unusual pressure or wear and tear on the foot may lead to an increased risk of developing the painful condition.
People from all walks of life may develop plantar fasciitis, although the condition is most often seen in patients who are 40-70 years old. In fact, about 10 percent of the population will develop chronic plantar fasciitis.2,3 Runners, people who stand at work, and those who are overweight have greater risk than the general population.
Traditional treatments of plantar fasciitis include stretching, massage, icing, anti-inflammatory medications, steroid shots, wearing a boot at night to stretch the plantar ligament, and surgery.
Low level laser therapy (LLLT) is quickly becoming a more attractive treatment option for plantar fasciitis. LLLT has long been approved and effectively used to treat inflammation, and there is evidence to suggest that LLLT promotes healing of the small tears in the ligament that cause the inflammation.4
Most of the current studies were performed on small populations, so more research is warranted. However, the studies that have been conducted regarding the effectiveness of LLLT as a treatment for plantar fasciitis have shown positive results.1,5,6
LLLT is still considered an experimental therapy by many insurance companies, but scientists continue to study its effectiveness, there have been no negative results associated with the therapy. Treating patients who suffer from plantar fasciitis with LLLT provides another avenue for DCs to help patients who are in pain.
1Coughlin M, Zang K. Study of Low Level Laser Therapy to Treat Chronic Heel Pain Arising From Plantar Fasciitis. ClinicalTrials.gov. http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT01835743. Published April 17, 2013. Updated May 2014. Accessed June 2014.
2Catena F, Coughlin MJ, Doty JF, Jastifer JR, Stevens F. Low-Level Laser Therapy for the Treatment of Chronic Plantar Fasciitis: A Prospective Study. National Center for Biotechnology Information. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24510123. Published February 7, 2014. Accessed June 2014.
3Atkins D, Crawford F, Edwards J, Lambert M. A systematic review of treatments for the painful heel. Rheumatology. 1999;38(10):968-973.
4National Center for Biotechnology Information. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19841862. Published March 2010. Accessed June 2014.
5Kiritsi O, Malliaropoulos N, Mikroulis G, Tsitas K. Ultrasonographic evaluation of plantar fasciitis after low-level laser therapy: results of a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial.
6LaserStim Inc. Plantar Fasciitis. Laserstim.net. http://www.laserstim.net/Plantar-Fasciitis.asp. Accessed June 2014.