Chiropractic and plantar fasciitis

Chiropractic and plantar fasciitisThe subject of this article concerns a fairly common condition called plantar fasciitis. I received the question of whether this condition could be treated in chiropractic. Well yes, chiropractic may be effective in treating this condition.

First, what is a plantar fasciitis? This is actually an irritation of a ligament (fascia, hence the name fasciitis) located under the foot (in the arch of the foot). The fascia attaches on a small area of the heel bone and then expand and attaches again under all the toes. When there is an irritation of the fascia, pain is usually felt under the heel. The pain is particularly intense after a prolonged period of immobility, such as getting out of bed in the morning. Patients often feel like if they have a needle under their heel. It may happen that the pain is also felt in the arch of the foot or on the sides of the heel. Generally, pain decreases as the fascia is warming up (ex: walking for a few minutes).

Causes of plantar fasciitis are numerous. For example, prolonged walking on a hard surface, wearing shoes that do not have a good support (ex: high heels), mechanical problems of the foot, ankle, knee and even the pelvis, excess weight, etc.

If the plantar fasciitis persists for an extended period, a calcium deposit can develop where the fascia attaches on the heel, thus causing a bone spur, also known as the Lenoir’s spur (épine de Lenoir).

The good news is that this condition could be improved through chiropractic care. First, a physical examination is necessary to determine the exact cause of irritation. As mentioned earlier, the problem could be limited to the foot, but it is also possible that an imbalance of the pelvis causes the irritation of fascia (caused by the difference of weight on each foot). Your chiropractor will be able to assess the problem. Once the origin of the problem established, chiropractic treatment usually consists of restoring the proper mechanical function of the pelvis, knees, ankles and feet. Muscle techniques are used to reduce the tension in the fascia. Your chiropractor will also be able to give you exercises to do at home in order to help the fascia regain more flexibility. For example, you can massage the fascia by placing a tennis ball on the floor and roll your foot on it. Stretching the muscles of the leg and foot are also necessary to treat the condition. If your chiropractor believes that orthotics might help you resolve the condition, he could refer you to a podiatrist for custom foot orthotics. Applying ice under the foot could also help reduce the inflammation of the fascia.

Typically, this condition responds well to chiropractic care. In the event that the results would be limited to conservative care, other interventions are possible. For example, taking anti-inflammatory or having injections in the foot could be considered (a consultation with your medical doctor will be necessary).

If you suffer from this condition, consult a chiropractor today. Not only the condition might take less time to treat, but you will also prevent the irritation of other related structures such as your knees or even your back.

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The sciatic nerve

Sciatic nerve

You probably know people around you who suffered from sciatic pain. Maybe you had that problem yourself. If it is the case, you know very well how painful that condition may be. The goal of this article is to clarify the nature of that condition.

What is a sciatic nerve?

The main function of the spine is to protect the nerves traveling inside and between the vertebrae. The nerves traveling between the vertebrae are called spinal nerves. The sciatic nerve is made of the combination of the spinal nerves L4 to S3 joined altogether, thus creating the biggest nerve of your body. There is a sciatic nerve heading in each of your legs.

The sciatic pain

The sciatic pain represents a pain felt in the area where the sciatic nerve is traveling through. Many conditions could be responsible for sciatic pain. As an example, an injury to the disc located between two vertebrae (like a disc herniation), could irritate the sciatic nerve. Another frequent cause of a sciatic nerve irritation is a dysfunction of the pelvis. This problem could lead to an increase of muscle tension in the buttock, causing an irritation of the sciatic nerve. Of all the muscles, the piriformis muscle is frequently a source of irritation on that nerve. Since that muscle is attached  from the sacrum to the hip and passes on top of the sciatic nerve, a spasm could create a pressure on the sciatic nerve. A wrong move, a bad posture or repetitive movements could lead to that problem. It is also important to know that there are many conditions that could create pain down the leg, without being an irritation of the sciatic nerve. As an example, an irritation of the facet joints (the small joints between two vertebrae) could cause pain in the leg that may look similar to sciatic pain. To know if your sciatic nerve is the source of your pain or not, the chiropractor will have to perform orthopedic and neurological tests.

What are the treatments for sciatic pain?

The treatment for a sciatic problem will vary from one patient to another, depending on the source of the pain. For example, if the pain is generated from a pelvic problem, the chiropractor will mainly work on the pelvis and the muscles attaching to it. On the other hand, if your pain is caused by a disc herniation, the treatment will consist more of treating the affected disc. Don’t be surprised if the treatments are mainly done on the lower back even if your pain is located in your leg.  The source of the pain isn’t always located where you feel it.

Many exercises and stretches exist to relieve the sciatic pain. Based on the main source of your pain, the chiropractor will be able to recommend you some of those exercises. The chiropractor will also show you what type of movement and posture you should and should not do in order to prevent the recurrence of your condition.

If the irritation of your sciatic nerve is too important to be treated with conservative chiropractic care, the chiropractor will be able to refer you to the health professional most likely able to help you.

If you are suffering from sciatic pain, don’t wait any longer before consulting the chiropractor. Most of the time, it is easier and faster to treat a problem right from the beginning of the condition instead of waiting for the problem to become chronic.