Non-Pharmacological Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles Tendonitis, and Chronic Foot Pain
Our feet are well-worn parts of our bodies that take a lot of abuse, from stubbed toes and twisted ankles to chronic discomfort like tendonitis and arthritis. Foot pain, whether acute or chronic, can stop us in our tracks and interrupt everything from our jobs to our hobbies to spending time with our loved ones.
Looking to stop foot pain before it stops you? Keep reading to see how laser therapy can relieve pain and swelling from overuse, and even treat persistent toenail fungus.
Dangers of Procrastinating Treatment for Foot Pain
When you’re on your feet, there’s always a chance for injury, but chronic foot and ankle pain can cause much more damage if left untreated. Changes to your gait that alleviate tension on your feet can cause additional stress and injury to your legs, knees, hips, and back. The more damage sustained, the more difficult treatment can become.
Common Causes of Chronic Foot Pain
Plantar fasciitis and achilles tendonitis are common causes of pain in the lower leg, heels, and feet. Plantar fasciitis is caused by damage to the plantar fascia, a thick connective ligament between the heel and front of the foot. Consistent pressure from standing for long periods of time or prolonged use of unsupportive footwear during activity are risk factors for plantar fasciitis.
Achilles tendonitis affects the achilles tendon that attaches the calf muscles to the heel. This overuse injury is common in runners and middle-aged weekend warriors.
Left untreated, both of these issues can result in more serious injury. Continuing regular activity without treatment or support for injured tissues creates more risk for a serious tear or rupture. Additionally, letting these conditions persist can result in further damage from chronic inflammation. Surgery to treat extreme damage and relieve severe pain comes with long recovery periods and runs the risk of nerve damage and loss of full function of the foot and ankle.
Laser Therapy for Chronic Foot Pain
Laser therapy is an alternative treatment to traditional pain management. Laser therapy utilizes the energy of red and near-infrared light to boost the body’s natural healing processes instead of masking symptoms like other methods. Treatments with laser therapy last 5-20 minutes and typically require between 6 and 12 treatments to achieve the desired results.
Learn more about how laser therapy works in our article here.
There are several benefits to laser therapy treatments, the first being there are no adverse side effects. While over-the-counter pain relievers can irritate the stomach, and prolonged use can cause kidney or liver damage, laser therapy doesn’t affect any area of the body that was not exposed to the laser.
Laser therapy treatments are also painless, unlike corticosteroid injections that are often used to reduce pain and swelling in joints. And while complete treatment will take multiple regular visits, the relief experienced from laser therapy outlasts that of corticosteroid injections. Additionally, repeated use of cortisone shots can cause more damage to the joint and surrounding soft tissues.
Another benefit of laser therapy is that it can be combined easily with other treatments, such as physical therapy or braces and supports. There is no downtime needed after a laser therapy treatment, so you can go about your day normally afterwards.
Laser Therapy for Toenail Fungus (Onychomycosis)
While not necessarily a cause of pain, toenail fungus, or onychomycosis, can be a persistent issue that is not easily treated and can often return. Laser therapy is an effective treatment for toenail fungus that is approved by the FDA.
How It Works
One of the main complications with treating onychomycosis is thickening of the nail that reduces the effectiveness of topical antifungal treatments. Laser therapy is able to penetrate the nail and nail bed where fungi reside. The thermal energy from a laser treatment kills fungi. Absorbing heat energy from a laser damages the cell envelopes of the fungi, destroying them.
Pulsing laser light is often used when treating onychomycosis to reduce heat on the skin and prevent injury. Because toenail fungus is often persistent, treatment can take between 6 and 18 months.
Alternative to Oral Medications
Just like with pain medications, oral antifungal medications have unwanted and potentially dangerous side effects, such as kidney and liver damage or weakening of the heart’s ability to contract. Another major concern with using oral antifungals is their interactions with other medications or alcohol that can be dangerous.
Laser therapy is an effective and safe treatment for toenail fungus that can be used in combination with topical antifungals or on its own as an alternative to oral antifungal medications.
Laser therapy is a pain-free option for multiple causes of foot pain and irritation. If you’re interested in trying laser therapy, click the link below to find an Aspen Laser provider near you.