Active Release Technique

Active Release Technique

The Active Release Technique (ART) is a relatively new procedure being used to treat soft tissue injuries, including plantar fasciitis and related foot conditions. The method has been praised by many people who have used it to alleviate stubborn, lingering injuries that have seemingly been immune to most other treatment attempts.

The driving force behind the ART system is P. Michael Leahy, a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician, who developed the technique in 1986.  Dr. Leahy founded Champion Health Associates and has been helping people, especially athletes, combat problem injuries for over 15 years.

Most soft tissue problems addressed by the ART technique are a result of overactivity. The muscles and tissues deteriorate due to pulls, tears, and an accumulation of many small micro tears. Blood flow to the area can be inhibited by all of these factors. As a result, the tissue never gets a chance to heal, and scar tissue develops. This internal scar tissue, or adhesions, can greatly inhibit the mobility of the affected area. The muscles become shorter and weaker as the mobility decreases. Tendons become more stressed and tendonitis develops. Additionally, nerves can become pinched which can cause numbness, tingling, and further weakening.

Traditional treatment methods would include physical therapy, modalities, ultrasound, and anti-inflammatories. The ART technique goes in a somewhat different direction which is more aligned with massage treatments and chiropractic methods. The technique depends heavily on the technician’s ability to get a precise feel of the injured area, especially the texture and tension. The technician learns by feel to shorten the tissue, apply a precise tension to it, and realign it with respect to the surrounding tissue. With proper technique, the ART method can restore smooth and free movement of tissues and relieve pressure on impacted nerves. This is accomplished by removing the adhesions in the soft tissues using the appropriate protocols. The changes made are fast and lasting, and in many cases relieve the problem area significantly.

These treatments are very specific and require that the health professional becomes certified in the Active Release Technique methodology. There are over 500 unique treatment protocols within the ART umbrella. The certifications are made for targeted areas and conditions of the human anatomy. There are certification courses for upper and lower extremities, the spine, nerve entrapment, complex protocols, active palpation, and others. These courses are geared at learning the tissue makeup of the problem area in extremely fine detail. Understanding the feel of the affected tissue, and how it moves relative to the surrounding tissue, is the key component leading to successful treatment. Specialists usually become certified only in their area(s) of expertise.

In the case of plantar fasciitis, the practitioner would obviously be certified in the lower extremity ART methods. Plantar fasciitis is indeed a soft tissue condition which has been successfully addressed with ART.  In this condition there are many small tears in the plantar fascia, such that adhesions are usually present and are an impediment to movement and blood flow. The trained health professional can zero in on these adhesions by feel, and can work with the ART protocols to reduce them and restore mobility to the tissues. The treatment usually encompasses a larger area than just the plantar fascia, as the root cause of plantar fasciitis is usually related to the surrounding tissue as well.

A short video below gives a brief description of plantar fasciitis, and explains the use of ART techniques in treating it:

 

Much more detailed information about the Active Release Technique can be found on the ART website. Descriptions of the certification courses and details about the treatments can be found here.  Additionally, an ART provider can be found using the locator tool on the site.

 

 

 

Shin Splints

Shin Splints

 

 

Shin splints are associated with pain along the tibia, which is the long bone on the front part of the lower leg. The official name of the condition is medial tibial stress syndrome. Similar in nature to stress fractures, shin splints usually develop due to overtraining, or by a sudden variation in a training regiment. The condition is actually an inflammation of the muscles, bones, and tendons in the immediate area of the tibia.

Shin splints

Shin splints

Shin splints can be initiated in a number of ways, but are usually a result of stresses beyond the level of conditioning of the affected muscles and tendons. For instance, an  increase in the frequency of runs per week could be to blame. Also, a change in training to include hills and pavement could cause the condition. Military recruits are often at risk due to the sudden increase in walking, running, and standing that they experience in recruit training.

Another factor leading to shin splints could be the use of worn out shoes, or shoes inappropriate for the activity. This is a common theme associated with the cause of a variety of foot conditions. Runners with flat feet, or fallen arches, can be particularly susceptible to shin splints unless precautions with proper footwear are followed.

Some swelling may be associated with shin splints, along with soreness along the leg which often decreases when the activity stops.  Initial treatment of the condition should include ice and OTC pain relievers. Rest is recommended, usually for a couple of weeks. During the period of rest, a cross training program can be developed. This can include swimming, biking, ellipitical machines, yoga, and many other forms of exercise.

Icing shin splints

Icing helps shin splints

 

When restarting your primary activity, it is important to begin at a lower level of intensity and frequency to ensure that the condition is not re-aggravated. A typical program would be distance and pace both decreased by half initially from the pre-injury level. Barring any setbacks, the distance should be ramped up slowly over a 4 to 6 week period. The pace should not be increased until the distance is back to normal.

If the pain returns right away, it is usually time to get a physician involved. He may prescribe stronger NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines) to help relieve the inflammation. Sometimes physical therapy can help, especially with flexibility exercises. He may find that orthotics are essential to alleviating the condition, especially in the case of flat feet. An x-ray may be performed to see if another related problem may be present, such as stress fractures. It is very rare for surgery to be performed for shin splints.

To reduce the likelihood of having shin splints again, stretching and strengthening exercises should be incorporated into the training program. Strengthening the calf muscles via toe raises can help prevent re-injury. Other leg exercises such as leg presses can help to condition the muscles and tendons so that the workout intensities can be increased. The effectiveness of good training shoes cannot be over-emphasized. Improper foot mechanics may make orthotics imperative to avoid shin splints, as well as other related foot injuries.

 

 

Photos courtesy Flickr.com/Julie F; bearclau

Stress Fractures

Stress Fractures

Stress fractures of the foot can develop suddenly and can put a screeching halt to your training regiment. They are one of the most common injuries to runners and other athletes who put a lot of pressure on their feet with their activities. The injury normally happens as a result of overuse.

The stress fracture is a small crack in a bone, usually in a weight-bearing bone. There are several areas of the body where these commonly occur. One is the navicular, which is a bone on the very top of the foot. Another is the calcaneous, or heel, of the foot.  The metatarsals, or long bones, of the foot are susceptible, especially the second and third metatarsals. The fibula in the lower leg is another common stress fracture location.

Symptoms of a stress fracture include swelling in the area, which can become very tender to the touch. It is common for the pain to flare up only during periods of activity, subsiding afterwards. This will be a recurring pattern associated with a stress fracture. It is important to stop running (or the troublesome activity) if a stress fracture is suspected. Repeated overuse can cause even more damage, including a complete break of the bone.

Stress fractures usually occur when the surrounding muscles are tiring and are not providing the level of support that they normally do. This will allow more of the pounding of the activity to be transferred directly to the bone instead of being absorbed by the muscles. This often happens when people are under conditioned and not ready to attempt the level of activity that they are attempting. Doing too much too soon is quite characteristic of a stress fracture event. This is not always just when someone is beginning an exercise program, but often when an increase in training intensity, frequency, or duration occurs. Additionally, poor equipment such as worn-out running shoes can greatly increase the risk of a stress fracture.

Initial treatment of a stress fracture should include icing for short periods (less than 20 minutes) several times daily.  Acetaminophens (pain relieivers) such as Tyleonol can be used effectively. Ibuprofens (such as Advil) should be avoided as they do not aid bone healing. Short periods of exercise should be initiated, but if the pain flairs up again it is advisable to consult with a physician.

flexcast stress fracture

Foot stress fracture

 

Physicians may often miss a stress fracture on a x-ray since they are usually very small. Podiatrists are trained to look for them in the typical areas where they often occur. If a stress fracture is diagnosed, the podiatrist may recommend some form of walking boot or crutches to eliminate stresses on the area and allow it to heal. A cast may be recommended, especially for the navicular or the fifth metatarsul. Surgical procedures are sometimes required to insert pins or a plate to ensure that the small foot bones remain in place during the healing process.

Resting is critical, and a 6 to 12 week recovery time should be expected. Other forms of exercise are encouraged, such as swimming, stationary bikes, and upper body workouts. Quicker healing can be expected if the feet are rested as much as possible.

After the injury has healed sufficiently, it is important to ramp up slowly back to your pre-injury level of activity. About 60% of all stress fractures occur in people who have already experienced one. In other words, you are more susceptible to having a re-injury. The importance of good footwear, and of training within limits, are key components to ensure that a repeat injury does not happen.

 

Image courtesy Flickr/Kevin Teague

 

 

Hammer Toe

Hammer Toe

Hammer toe is a painful foot deformity in which one or more of the toes is permanently bent, somewhat resembling the shape of a hammer. This usually happens in the second, third, or fourth toe.  In technical terms, the proximal interphalangeal joint of the affected toe has become deformed. The toes can curl up and resemble a claw. The condition becomes painful when the toe’s shape forces it to press against the other toes unnaturally, or against the inside of the shoe. Hammer toe commonly is associated with other foot conditions such as bunions and corns. Pain can be centered on the top or tip of the toes, or on the ball of the foot.

Hammer Toe

Hammer Toe on 2nd digit

Hammer toe is sometimes a genetic disorder that develops due to foot conditions such as flat feet or high arches. It can be related to an arthritic condition as well, and can be symptomatic of a stroke. However, often the problem develops as a result of poor fitting shoes. Women especially can develop hammer toes if they wear tight fitting high heeled shoes for long periods.

Muscles that control the toes work in pairs, and if the muscles become imbalanced it can cause stress on the tendons, nerves, and joints of the toe. This stress can be force the toe into the bent hammer shape. In its initial stage, the hammer toe is still flexible and can be moved, although it is often painful. There are treatment options that we will discuss for this. In later stages the hammer toe’s tendons have become rigid and stiff and cannot be moved. For this case surgery is often the only viable option.

Physical therapy is sometimes effective for the flexible hammer toe condition. This therapy usually focuses on exercising the toes by using them to pick up small objects off the floor. These exercises will strengthen the toe muscles and stretch them out.  In addition, a brace can be fitted that will force the muscles of the toes to stretch out. For relieving the discomfort of hammer toe, padding of the toe is recommended. Cortisone injections and orthotics are helpful in many cases. OTC anti-inflammatories can be effective also. Wearing shoes that have excessive toe room to accomodate the curled toe(s) is beneficial. Using open toed shoes that don’t put pressure on the toes is ideal.  Some helpful treatment aids can be found here on this website.

If surgery is deemed necessary, it is often to release the tight tendon that is keeping the toe from being able to stretch out. The toe can be surgically shortened also. The bone structure can be modified around the toe joint to allow for additional movement. Some hardware may be implanted in the toe which will allow the bones, tendons, and ligaments to recover.  Laser surgery is not usually an option since bone procedures are usually part of the surgery.

Recovery time is highly dependent on the exact nature of the surgery, but the healing process is normally around 6 weeks. Patients can usually walk in surgical stiff soled shoes shortly after the procedure. Return to normal footwear and activities can be anywhere from 1 to 3 months. Surgery on the second toe is generally more involved, since it is more actively involved in pushing off when walking, and the recovery is longest for this toe. Bunions can be treated if necessary at the same time, which can lengthen the recovery time. The surgery is normally done as an outpatient procedure.

 

 

 

— Image courtesy footandankleinsitute.be

 

 

Flat Feet

Flat Feet

Flat feet can be an extremely painful condition that affects many aspects of your life. Runners especially can have a difficult time dealing with flat feet, sometimes called fallen arches. Overpronation is generally associated with flat feet. This can lead to additional stress on other parts of the legs and the back. The typical answer to running with flat feet is to utilize motion control (stability) shoes with firm midsoles.

Fallen Arches

Flat Foot

 

The reason for this is that the ankle has too much movement in a flat-footed individual. This excessive movement allows the overpronation to happen. The rest of the skeletal system overcompensates for this, and pain is the likely result in various areas.

Many people have low-arched feet, which can be dealt with much easier than flat feet. Arch support orthotics are usually quite helpful and generally take care of running issues for these people. Flat feet is considerably less common than low arches, but the condition does occur in a significant number of people.

Flat feet can occur in varying degrees from mild to severe. The condition can be described as flexible (mobile) or rigid (stiff). Many people are genetically susceptible to it. Others acquire it from injury or as a side effect of other foot problems. Initial treatments for the disorder are similar to those for plantar fasciitis injuries. This includes OTC anti-inflammatories and pain relievers, physical therapy, orthotics, and cortisone injections. Additionally, in more severe cases, an ankle foot orthotic is sometimes helpful for providing more support than typical orthotics.

Sometimes the severity of the condition dictates that surgery is required. There are a large number  of surgical options that can be considered, depending on the exact nature of the case. For rigid flat feet, this usually means re-shaping the foot using a variety of methods. These include bone realignment, fusion, bone grafts, and clearing of the area that is restricting movement.

With flexible flat feet, however, the main focus is recreating the arch. This often is accomplished by repairing the tendons that lift the arch, and realignment of the heel.  Weakening of the posterior tibialis tendon often leads to adult acquired flatfoot, which is one of the most common and troublesome cases. The tendon continues to weaken and the feet flatten as a result.

Any of these surgical methods can be expected to have a fairly long recovery time, usually from 6 to 12 weeks. The foot will not be able to support weight during a portion of this recovery time. It is typical to only have surgery on one foot at a time because of this. Sometimes the foot will need to be in a cast as well. The repercussions of surgery are severe enough that it is typical to try several other corrective measures before going this route.

A newer type of surgery which is gaining popularity is known as the HyProCure implant. This procedure is generally only performed on persons with flexible flat feet. It involves inserting a titanium implant into the sinus tarsi, and is considered a minimally invasive surgery. The incision is only an inch or so in length. The implant will reduce the movement in the ankles which leads to overpronation. The implant keeps the ankle in its proper position, which will naturally create the arch in the foot.

The HyProCure is attached and held in place by soft tissue, and the bones are not affected nearly as much. The device actually fits into a space in the ankle that is already there. The recovery time is normally much less than traditional flat foot surgery, typically around 4 weeks.  There will be some adjustment time as the body adapts to having some arches again. These implants should help to improve the entire skeletal alignment and commonly reduces back and knee pain as well as foot pain.

HyProCure Implants

HyProCure

Every condition is unique and complex, and a podiatrist needs to be consulted to help decide on the proper course of action. There are many options available, and one of these can help many people that are suffering from the flat foot condition.

 

 

 

Images courtesy:  flickr/Euskalanato;   hyprocure-surgery.blogspot.com

 

 

Gout

Gout

Gout is a painful foot condition that usually affects the big toe area. It is characterized by inflammation, redness, and stiffness of the joints affected. The condition is actually an attack of acute inflammatory arthritis. The metatarsal-phalangeal joint, which is at the base of the big toe, is the area which is most commonly affected. However, other joints of the foot can be affected as well. It is rare in persons under 40 years of age, although 6 million adults over age 20  have had the condition at some point. Men between the ages of 40 and 50 are the most likely to have gout. Women typically don’t develop the condition until after the onset of menopause.

Acute gout

Acute gout

The physical cause of gout is excessive levels of uric acid, a waste product, in the blood. This waste product is deposited in the joints and soft tissues as needle-like crystals. These crystals cause the inflammatory arthritis and its associated symptoms. The affected joint is usually very tender and swollen, making walking and standing painful at times.

The gout condition can develop due to a number of factors. One of these is genetics. Estimates vary, but around half of reported gout cases are people with a family history of the condition. Diet is a big contributing factor as well. Purine-rich foods can cause gout to develop or intensify. Some of these foods include wild game, some seafoods, asparagus, anchovies, mushrooms, and liver. Excessive alcohol use can interfere with removal of uric acid and lead to gout in some people. Other health conditions can play a role as well, such as high blood pressure, skin conditions, and thyroid gland issues. The medications used for some of these conditions can put some people at higher risk as well.

Acute gout attacks can be triggered quickly and become quite problematic. They often happen at night when the body temperature is lower, and are often a result of stressful events or a byproduct of other illnesses.  Intense pain and swelling of the joints around the big toe is common, and the area feels warm and is quite tender. Acute gout attacks usually last for up to 10 days, and usually subside of their own accord. However, subsequent attacks can last much longer, and intensify each time they occur. The period of time between attacks can be months or years, but eventually they tend to last longer and occur more frequently.

Gout is normally treated with the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or with corticosteroids. NSAIDs are taken orally and provide relief by reducing the inflammation associated with the gout. The medicine is usually effective within four hours, and treatments are recommended to be continued for one to two weeks. NSAIDs do not reduce the amount of uric acid in the blood. Many people experience side effects from the use of NSAIDs.

Corticosteroids can be taken orally, or injected into the affected area. This is a very strong anti-inflammatory hormone. Improvement is usually seen within a few hours, and the attack usually subsides completely within a week. These steroids cannot be used if the joint is infected however, as this will be detrimental to the condition.

Without treatment, the repeated attacks can become worse and do some real damage.  Joint surfaces can be deformed or destroyed. Follow-on attacks are not limited to the foot, and may appear in the knee, ear, or hands as well as other parts of the feet. Kidney stones can accompany gout attacks, and kidney problems can commonly occur.  Long term, it is important to lower the level of uric acid in the body, which will eliminate the gout condition.  Several drugs are utilized in this effort, including allopurinol, febuxostat, and probenecid.

Gout of the hand

Gout of the hand

Gout is becoming more common, and affects about 2% of the Western population at some point in their lifetime. Studies are ongoing to learn more about the condition and find better ways to relieve its symptoms and prevent it from occurring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos courtesy:

flickr/Mobiledoc;  flickr/Michael  McCollough

 

 

 

Zero Drop Running Shoes

Zero Drop Running Shoes

A relatively new phenomenon in the running world is the emergence of ‘minimalist’ running shoes, often referred to as zero drop running shoes. Essentially these shoes are pretty much level from heel to toe, as opposed to the majority of traditional running shoes which have a built up heel.

The typical running shoe has a heel to toe differential of 12 to 15 millimeters. One school of thought is that this encourages heavy heel striking in runners which could be the cause of many foot problems. The force of impact on the heel can be greater and force over pronation, which is one of the most common problems facing a large number of runners. Over pronation can lead to alignment problems and several types of foot injuries. However, shifting away from typical running shoes will necessitate a modification to your running style as well. It is not a simple switch to make, and must be done gradually with transition minimalist shoes.

 

Zero Drop Running Shoe

Women’s Zero Drop Trail Runners

A transition minimalist shoe has a heel to toe differential of between 4 to 10 millimeters, and would be the logical path to take towards zero drop shoes. Even this intermediate step will require a gradual phase-in at the risk of sore calf muscles and Achilles tendons. A strength and flexibility program should accommodate this phase as well. The hip flexors and lower legs will be stressed in different ways and an exercise program for these areas is important. This all will be incorporated into the new running style, moving away from heel striking. It is imperative to try short distances first to allow the feet and legs to adapt. An overly aggressive running regiment too quickly is an invitation for a bout with plantar fasciitis.

The full zero drop running shoe has a heel to toe differential of between 0 to 4 millimeters. Pro-minimalist runners and experts argue that this allows the body to run in the most natural position. The feet are able to move without compensating for any shoe form issues. The physics of running suggest that the zero drop shoes, when used properly, do put less stress on the feet, legs, and lower back. However, if the running gait is not properly adapted, and heel striking still occurs, these benefits are not realized. In fact, additional stresses may be introduced as a result.

The possible difficulty of changing your running style may be one reason to shy away from these type of shoes. Another is that zero drop shoes may be ideal for someone with perfect foot mechanics, but not practical for the majority of people who have some structural issues. It wouldn’t make sense to switch to zero drop shoes only to build them back up again with orthotics.  Some people dissuade the use of orthotics, but there is no question that they help a lot of runners and athletes. Trying to switch to zero drop shoes when you have a problem foot condition doesn’t usually work.

 

zero drop running shoe

Minimalist Running Shoe

Regardless, there has been an explosion of zero drop running shoes on the market recently.  The long term impact of this type of shoe won’t be understood for a while.  It is important to realize that using these shoes requires a fundamental change in running style that will need some adaptation to fully benefit from them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Images courtesy:

flickr/naturalrunningstore.com

flickr/Carmen Rodriguez

 

 

 

Bunions

Bunions

Bunions are a foot problem not associated with the heel, but rather with the big toe area of the foot. It is actually a musculoskeletal foot condition affecting the big toe. The angle of the big toe has changed to point more inwards toward the second toe. In technical terms, the first and second metatarsal bones have separated slightly, which causes the big toe to change its position and angle slightly. In addition, a sometimes large and painful bump develops around the base of the big toe on the side of the foot. This painful condition can make walking and standing very painful. Many people adjust by wearing wider shoes to give the bunion additional space.

There are some varying theories about why bunions develop. They tend to be more prevalent in women, possibly because of extended use of high heeled shoes with cramped areas for the toes which force the toes inward. Eventually this may aggravate the big toe to the extent that it starts to angle inwards to accomodate the shoes. Other studies have stated that bunions are a product of heredity, having found that over 60% of people who suffer from bunions have a family history of the condition. Some types of feet have bones that tend to go out of alignment more easily than others. Heredity could certainly have an impact on this situation. It is advised for women to limit the use of high heels if there is any family history of bunions.

Painful bunion

Painful bunion on right foot

An enlargement of the bursa sac on the side of the foot near the big toe’s base is actually what makes up the painful bump on the side of the foot. The soft tissue in the area has become enlarged. This is usually because some of the small bones of the foot have undergone a structural deformation.

A bunion is usually plainly visible and is easily diagnosed, but a podiatrist will often perform an x-ray to determine the extent of the bunion. It is pretty common for other foot conditions to exist in conjunction with the bunion, which will show up in the x-ray. If the big toe angle towards the second toe is 15 degrees or more it is considered to be a bunion and is problematic.

Non-surgical treatment for bunions is similar to those associated with plantar fasciitis in many respects. Rest is recommended initially, along with orthotics, ice treatments, physical therapy, and medications. It is also imperative to change footwear to relieve pressure on the affected area. In addition, there are a variety of accesories available to help provide relief for bunion pain. These include splints, bunion sleeves, toe spreaders, and support socks. One or more of these options is usually quite effective in reducing the bunion size and pain to the point that normal activities can resume.

Bunion night splints

Bunion night splints

 

Surgery is usually not necessary, but in severe bunion cases it may be required.  The procedure may involve only repair to soft tissue. But a complete realignment of the bones around the big toe may be the only option. If surgery is deemed necessary, it is effective in about 90% of all cases. A 6 to 8 week recovery from surgery is considered typical.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos courtesy:

flickr/Kim Carpenter

flickr/Nina Jean

 

 

 

Shock Wave Therapy

Shock Wave Therapy

Another method of treatment for chronic plantar fasciitis is a procedure known as Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT). This therapy is a somewhat radical option that is not usually considered until a patient has gone through at least 6 months of the conventional treatment methods. The ESWT option could be tried if conventional means have not been effective.  This is usually the stage of treatment where surgery is being considered as a possible last resort.

Shock wave therapy is based on applying a burst of energy externally to the affected area which will cause some minimal trauma. The body will respond to the trauma with repair responses, including increased blood flow and nutrients being delivered to the affected area. In successful treatment cases, this will initiate a new wave of healing of the plantar fascia area which will relieve some of the inflammation around the heel. The therapy has therefore stimulated the healing process which may relieve most of the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. The therapy can cause the body to begin healing the stubborn heel inflammation, which it would not have done without the treatment. Additionally, the therapy seems to dull the nerves in the area somewhat,  which is a positive in this case since it will serve to relieve some of the heel pain.

ESWT can be tried in both low energy and high energy doses. The low energy treatments are normally done for a series of three or more sessions. The lower energy levels are not considered painful to most people. The treatments are spaced about a week apart in most cases.

The high energy ESWT is usually applied in a single session. This is a large enough amount of energy that it is quite painful, and thus a local or general anesthetic is required.

 

ESWT Therapy Machine

ESWT Machine

A typical machine used to perform ESWT is pictured here. The machine shown is produced by the Richard Wolf Company and is known as the Piezoson 100. The device can focus narrowly on the affected area to deliver the shockwaves for maximum benefit. The resulting action from the shockwave is increased microscopic circulation to the tissues.  There are many cavitation bubbles behind the shock wave, and these also serve to break down calcium deposits. The shockwaves are very short duration (milliseconds) but high energy pulses.

Patients often feel some improvement shortly after treatments are given. Some of this is due to the dulling of the nerves in the treated area. But the healing process will obviously take longer and will generally take a few weeks. Low energy ESWT can be repeated as needed during this time to further stimulate the healing.

A full technical discussion of ESWT therapy is beyond the scope of this post. But an excellent discussion about many aspects of the treatment can be found at the ShockwaveTherapy.ca website.

Several studies on the effectiveness of the ESWT treatments can be found in various medical journals. The results are mixed, ranging from big improvements to ineffective. The therapy is an option that may be appropriate for chronic plantar fasciitis that otherwise would require surgery. Consultation with a podiatrist would be the necessary first step to take.

 

 

 

 

 

Portable Ultrasound Machines

Portable Ultrasound Machines

The use of ultrasound therapy to treat plantar fasciitis symptoms and heel spurs has been one option that therapists and podiatrists have utilized occasionally. This normally has been a modality performed in the medical facility of a physician or therapist. However, some lower cost, portable ultrasound machines are becoming available for home use. These could be an option for those who suffer from chronic plantar fasciitis.

There are clear benefits to ultrasound therapy for plantar fasciitis treatments. The therapy increases blood flow around the inflamed area, and is effective to alleviate pain. The therapy reaches the tendons and tissues of the foot, and the vibrations can reduce the inflammation by increasing the blood flow. The ultrasound treatments can be combined with rest and various compression and orthotic devices to give the foot the very best chance to heal quickly and permanently. The vibrations can also break down some painful calcified areas of the foot and reduce swelling.

By having a personal ultrasound machine in the home you can treat the condition at your convenience. It can be done every day for maximum benefit instead of waiting for therapist visits. The machines are smaller than those generally used by therapists, and provide pulsed ultrasound waves as opposed to continuous outputs. This is considered safe enough to be used in a daily program. Significant progress is common when this is continued for up to about a month at a time.

Having a home ultrasound machine could be a big benefit if your plantar fasciitis flares up again unexpectedly due to excessive activity or training. You could quickly get the condition under control once again before it reaches the problematic stage. The machines could obviously be utilized to treat some other painful conditions as well.

The home use machines are generally 1 MHz frequency units and must be FDA certified. The 1 MHz ultrasound waves are generally absorbed in tissues at depths of 3-5 centimeters, which is the correct range for plantar fasciitis. The units are smaller and considerably cheaper than those used for commercial therapy. You can shop for Portable Ultrasound Machines by following this link. However, I haven’t tried them personally so proceed cautiously. Make sure to look closely at any reviews for the products before deciding to make a purchase.