Can a chiropractor help with foot and ankle pain?
Yes, we can, there are several types of foot and ankle injuries that we successfully treat in our St. Peter office. This page will cover the most common types, what you would experience if you were dealing with them and how we treat them.
What are the most common foot and ankle injuries chiropractors treat?
In our office, we see many different foot and ankle injuries. The most common include tendinopathies, fasciitis, ankle sprains, neuroma, flat feet, and high arches. We will discuss each of these conditions on this page to help you understand what is happening in your body, what you should expect during recovery, and how you can help yourself get better faster.
If you have ever stepped on broken glass you have an idea of what plantar fasciitis feels like. Anyone who has dealt with this condition for any amount of time will tell you that the first steps after rest are brutal, it often will feel like there is glass in your heel and foot. Pain typically will reduce a little to completely within the first few minutes of walking but can get triggered with intense movements.
What is Plantar Fascia?
Plantar fasciitis is pain that is in the heel and bottom of the foot. The plantar fascia is a band of connective tissue that continues from the Achilles tendon attachment on the heel into the ball of the foot acting like a suspensory bridge in the foot. This tissue is typically tough, most people will never deal with plantar fascia pain, thankfully.
Who gets Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis affects up to 10% of the runners, most common in 40-60 years old, it is most common in runners and in high intensity athletes, but it also commonly affects people who are on their feet all day without good foot support, people who are overweight or obese and people with flat feet.
Some great at-home exercises for plantar fascia pain.
Laser therapy successfully treats foot pain
How do you get rid of Plantar Fasciitis?
The good news is that it is completely treatable. The bad news? Plantar fasciitis can take time, sometimes a long time to heal. These types of injuries are like any tendonitis, there is poor blood flow to the tissue, it is hard to rest, and you have to work at getting it better.
Common at-home treatment options for Plantar Fasciitis
Let’s start with self-care options first. The most common first step people take is to rest. Stopping the painful activity can be helpful in some cases. The problem with this injury is that it needs movement, so too much rest can make it tougher to treat. Starting with stretching of the tissue, rolling, massage and ice have all been helpful in new plantar fascia cases. Check out our videos on foot exercises to see some of these ideas at work.
In-office treatments for Plantar Fasciitis
We take a 4 pronged approach, first, we evaluate the foot and ankle to make sure that you have good mobility in the joints, poor movement will cause increased tissue stress and make it harder to treat. Chiropractic adjustments and mobilizations can help reduce pain right away.
Second, we evaluate the soft tissues of the foot and lower leg. In many cases, there is dysfunction in the lower leg muscles that are also triggering guarding and poor motion in the foot. We treat these soft tissue problems with Active Release Technique, Graston Therapy, IASTM, Cupping, and Taping.
Third, home exercises. The most current research shows that you need to move these injuries, with and without weight, you need to cause the body to trigger a healing response without overdoing it and creating more inflammation. Having help here is key to a fast recovery.
Fourth, is laser therapy. Studies show that laser therapy is a very successful treatment option for tendonitis and fasciitis injuries. Our Laser is a critical part of care in chronic cases.
Fifth and finally is supplementation. Taking an approach of reducing inflammation and supporting repair and recovery makes a huge difference in how fast and how complete your recovery is. Collagen therapy has been shown to reduce pain in Achilles tendonitis and has great benefit in injuries like Plantar Fasciitis. We pair the collagen with Fish oil and Herbal Eze to reduce inflammation and pain.
What is Achilles Tendinopathy?
Simply, Achilles tendinopathy is an overuse injury but what does that mean for you and how do you get rid of it. In any tendon injury, your body will go through 3 phases called the Tendon Continuum. This concept covers the acute, sub-acute, and chronic phases of any injury but is more specific in tendon problems to help us understand what’s going on.
Achilles Tendinopathy is usually described by where your pain is localized to. You may have heard the terms insertional or mid and this has to do with is it more in the belly of the tendon or is it where it attaches to the bone.
Who gets Achilles Tendinopathy?
This is typically an athletic injury, coming from excessive loading of the tendon but, like any tendon problem, this is injury could affect someone who has a sedentary lifestyle as well. The biggest trigger for tendon injury is excessive overloading of the tendon
What should you expect with tendon pain?
The first phase is called Reactive Tendinopathy, this phase does not have inflammation but triggers growth in the cells in the tissue. Just like when you lift weights and your muscle grows, your tendon is trying to adapt to increased stress. As this phase progresses you have the potential to revert to a normal tendon with rest and reducing the load on the injury.
The second phase is Tendon Dysrepair, it is triggered by not resting a tendon once the Reactive phase started. The collagen in the tendon starts to separate and elongate. The tendon starts to inflame and breaks down. This is the phase that should start treatment. If you allow tendon disrepair to continue it becomes harder to treat and the risk of permanent injury increases.
The final phase is degenerative tendinopathy and this is what we want to avoid. This phase includes cell death and irreversible damage to the tissue. The tendon is thick, stiff, and painful.
Tendon injury is not all or none
When these processes start you can have areas of the tendon that are completely unaffected and other areas that have progressed to degenerative tendinopathy. The important thing to remember, as soon as you start having tendon pain to do something about it. Rehabilitating these injuries will help avoid further injury and hopefully, you will never have it, tendon rupture.
Treating Tendon Injuries
We approach the treatment of tendon injuries in similar ways to the plantar fasciitis plan.
- Deload, get the irritating activity out of your routine
- Home stretching, isometric exercises, and eccentric exercises.
- Ice/Heat as tolerated
Our treatments of Achilles Tendinopathy
- Thorough evaluation of your injury to determine the correct diagnosis
- Based on examination findings start you on at home exercises and therapy
- Use hands-on techniques like Active Release, IASTM, Taping, and Laser Therapy
- Start supplementation for tissue repair.
- Reload the tissue and promote recovery
One of the most common injuries to the ankle. 85% of cases are a result of inversion injuries and will affect the outside of the foot and ankle. Did you know that ankle injuries are the 2nd most common sport-related injury? Most ankle sprains come from indoor sports and the most severe ankle sprains come with basketball.
Why would you sprain your ankle?
Ankle sprains occur with a rapid shift of weight over your landing point. What does that mean? You land and your weight pushes you beyond your ability to recover, stretching the ligaments past their ability to stretch. Once a ligament is overstretched it loses elasticity and rarely will return to its previous toughness. Most people return to play much sooner than recommended which doesn’t give your ligaments time to heal and tighten.
How do you know if you sprained your ankle?
- You had a forceful inversion or eversion injury
- Your ability to weight-bear is limited or you are unable to weight bear
- Pain with touch, bruising, and swelling is present.
- Moving your foot into the injury replicates the pain.
What should you do to recover from an ankle sprain?
Peace and Love are all you need to recover from most grade 1 and 2 ankle sprains. This isn’t some new-age approach its a modified and updated version of RICE
- P-protection-avoiding actives that aggravate pain or increase inflammation
- E-Elevation-get your injury above your heart as often as possible
- A-Avoid anti-inflammatory- NSAIDS actually slow down the healing process and can prolong your recovery, only use them as a last resort
- C-Compression-Use elastic wraps or dynamic tape to help clear inflammation
- E-Education-Give your body a chance to heal, don’t rush to medical interventions, unless you need to speed up your recovery.
- L-Load your tissues and injury, follow the traffic light pain response, and don’t do anything that pushes your pain above a 5/10.
- O-Optimism-positive self-talk makes a big difference in how your body heals, avoid the negative headspace.
- V-Vascularization-choose pain-free cardio activity to promote blood flow and healing.
- E-Exercise-return to pain-free activity, strength training and take an active approach to recovery.
How can you recover faster from an ankle sprain?
We use a combination of therapies, in the first days of the injury laser therapy and dynamic tape is fantastic to help reduce the inflammation and pain to the injury. The first 7-10 days is all about inflammation. Once inflammation is reduced, adding soft tissue therapy to your treatments can speed up the remodeling phase. All soft tissue injuries benefit from increasing your protein intake. Make sure you are eating enough and keeping your junk food, alcohol and stress low. Promote good sleep and let your body heal.
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