Plantar fasciitis is the term commonly used to refer to heel and arch pain traced to an inflammation on the bottom of the foot. More specifically, plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the connective tissue, called plantar fascia, that stretches from the base of the toes, across the arch of the foot, to the point at which it inserts into the heel bone. Overpronation is the most common cause of plantar fasciitis. As the foot rolls inward excessively when walking, it flattens the foot, lengthens the arch, and puts added tension on the plantar fascia. Over time, this causes inflammation.
Also known as heel spur syndrome, the condition is often successfully treated with conservative measures, such as the use of anti-inflammatory medications, ice packs, stretching exercises, orthotic devices, and physical therapy. Note: Please consult your physician before taking any medications. In persistent cases, Extracorporeal Shock Wave Treatment (ESWT) may be used to treat the heel pain.
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) is used to treat chronic heel pain (plantar fasciitis). "Extracorporeal" means "outside of the body." During this noninvasive procedure, sonic waves are directed at the area of pain using a device similar to that currently used in nonsurgical treatment of kidney stones.
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy is prescribed for patients who have experienced plantar fasciitis for an extended period of time -- six months or more -- and have not benefited from other conservative treatments. The brief procedure lasts about 30 minutes and is performed under local anesthesia and/or "twilight" anesthesia. Strong sound waves are directed at and penetrate the heel area to stimulate a healing response by the body. ESWT is performed on an outpatient basis. Although there are no bandages, someone will need to drive the patient home.
People who are not candidates for ESWT include pregnant women and individuals with neurological foot disease, vascular foot disease, pacemakers, or people taking medications that interfere with blood clotting (such as Coumadin).
This therapy is a safe and effective alternative treatment for heel pain and only requires a short recovery time. Clinical studies show a 70 percent success rate for treatment of plantar fasciitis using Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy.
Two kinds of skin allergies, or dermatitis, are caused by substances coming in contact with the skin: primary irritant dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis. Primary irritant dermatitis is a non-allergic reaction of the skin resulting from exposure to an irritating substance. Allergic contact dermatitis is an allergic sensitization to various substances.
People who work in areas where their feet are exposed to repeated or prolonged contact to hot water, chemicals, oils, or wet cement can develop primary irritant dermatitis. Some solutions are safe if used properly. However, improper use can lead to a serious contact dermatitis. This is particularly dangerous for diabetics. For primary irritant dermatitis, soaking feet in solutions, such as bleach, vinegar, salt water, or Betadine, can be beneficial as long as excessive amounts are not used.
Allergic contact dermatitis is the result of exposure to substances that sensitize the skin. Each time the foot is exposed to the substance, an inflammatory reaction occurs. Some people are allergic to the substances in sock dyes or certain shoe materials. Adhesive tapes can cause an allergic reaction with blisters or a rash developing beneath the tape. Because of the heat and the accumulation of moisture beneath the tape, an acute Athlete's Foot infection can also be caused by an allergic reaction to the adhesive. Treatments include the use of cool compresses, topical steroid compounds (like hydrocortisone creams), and antifungal creams.