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The two main causes of foot pain… and their symptoms

foot heel pain Physiotherapy St. John's

The plantar fascia is the tough tissue that covers the bottom of the foot, supporting the arches, ligaments and muscles which are located there. This fascia is composed of dense, well-organized collagen strands, arranged in parallel alignment. The major issue with this condition is the degeneration of the collagen, often precipitated by poor foot structure (such as flat feet, overpronation); muscle imbalance (such as tight heel-cord); overweight; and aging issues (such as arthritis or heel fat pad decay). 

Heel spurs and their related pain can complicate a plantarfasciitis presentation, but the heel spur pain can also be totally its own presentation, without involving the plantar fascia.  Recent research indicates that heel spurs are a normal bony adaption designed to provide better mechanical advantage to nearby muscles and to protect the aging foot. Spurs can become painful when large enough to compress surrounding tissues, setting up an inflammatory response.

Plantarfasciitis pain is typically worse in the morning, when your feet first hit the floor. It is centered on the heel itself, but can radiate forward into the arch of the foot. It can appear to get better, then relapse; this is described as an initial acute inflammatory response which settles, and is followed by more persistent pain associated with degradation and degeneration of the collagen fibers which comprise the fascia. The resulting pain can be very persistent.

Laser is an effective treatment for both plantarfasciitis and heel spurs; the former  because it can repair collagen and the latter because it settles inflammation. Because the Bioflex laser directly targets mitochondria, the effect on the damaged tissue is to increase metabolism and restore normal cell function and structure. it  A recent randomized clinical trial supports the use of laser in the treatment of plantarfasciitis; and further, demonstrates that it is more effective than both shock wave therapy and ultrasound for relieving heel pain, 

BioFlex laser is a low-level or low-intensity laser, which is most properly called photobiomodulation. Bioflex laser has been intensively researched, and continues to be so at the Meditech Laser Clinics in Toronto. Similar research efforts are on-going at universities and other research facilities throughout the world….to the benefit of all who use the low level laser technology.  Essentially a low level laser is low powered (less than 500mW); derived from energy from wavelengths of 600 to 900 nm; and absorbed by light absorbing proteins within cells for the purpose of stimulating cell activity. This is most helpful when tissues have been injured or are inflamed, and unable to function normally…the laser stimulation provides the energy the cell needs to recover more quickly. Low level laser also has an analgesic effect, which is used to good effect, especially by those who want to reduce their use of pain medication, or who would prefer not to take medication.

Whether plantarfasciitis or heel spur pain, it is important to identify and correct associated 

mechanical issues, such as  poor foot structure or alignment; and muscle imbalances.

At Avalon Laser Health, we love the Bioflex laser, because it accelerates healing, settles inflammation and provides pain relief. That said, not all foot pain is plantarfasciitis; and laser, as good as it is, can’t restore normal function if the foot is in poor alignment. So…to answer the question concerning treatment similarities between the two conditions…the components of the treatment plan are the same, but laser protocols differ. Also, correcting foot mechanics is very custom, and reflects individual requirements.

For more information, or to book an assessment, call Vani at 753-0155 or email info@avalonlaserhealth.ca




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