Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Treat Your Own Plantar Fasciitis

plantar fasciitis diagram
Understanding the Cause Suggests the Cure for Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar Fasciitis defined is simply an inflammatory condition caused by strain and over stretching of the ligament that spans the bottom of the foot. This plantar ligament functions to provide spring in your step as well as support the longitudinal arch. Inflammation of such can cause severe pain, particularly when barefoot, when first standing, upon awakening, or standing after prolonged sitting. Plantar fasciitis often precedes and plays a major factor in heel spur formation. As a side note, Plantar Fasciitis has a funny sort of spelling and is often mis-spelled as plantar facitis or plantar fascitis.
The use of gel or cushion under your foot can temporarily relieve or soothe plantar fasciitis. However, this offers temporary relief at best and should not be considered a long term solution. It is a common misconception by both sufferers and physicians alike that a soft cushion under the foot resolves a bevy of foot problems. In reality this measure compromises foot support in the long run, similar to the lack of support for the spine when sleeping on a soft mattress. I prefer to recommend proper support of the arch of the foot, thus relieving strain on the plantar fascia. This functions to actually reduce pressure on the attachment point where the plantar ligament (fascia) attaches to the heel. Excessive tensile forces at this point of insertion over time are the etiological factors that form heel spurs. In essence, a heel spur is your body's response to the ligament pulling on the bone, forming what doctors call a traction spur.
  1. The first step is to break the cycle of inflammation (swelling) and pain with ice and cold therapy.
  2. You must wear an orthotic that both supports the arches of the foot and offers a heel cup. The heel cup serves to elicit side pressure, thus squeezing and fluffing up your own natural fat pad. Your fat pad is nature's way of providing good shock absorption and comfort under the heel. It is not uncommon for those presenting with plantar fasciitis to have signs of a compressed, flattened out fat pad, subjecting the heel to undue stress and increased inflammation. Custom orthotics are great, but there are some over the counter orthotics like Superfeet Orthotic Comfort Insoles that do a great job as well.
  3. Wear only rubber soled shoes with good heel counters, good pronation control and good lateral stability.
  4. Other important factors to consider:
  • Going barefoot is a no no, even in the shower. It is important to wear massage or acu-pressure sandals with arch support. Make sure they are rubber so you can wear in the shower. Keep them by your bed and slip your feet in to them first thing, so your heels never have to touch the floor.
  • Never allow swelling to build up in the plantar fascia. Pain is a good indicator of swelling. Thus, if your arches and/or heels get sore during the day, make sure to soak your feet in ice water at night for 10-15 minutes. This is every bit as effective as shots of cortisone.
  • Maintain flexibility in your achilles tendon and calves. Tension in these soft tissues is transmitted to the plantar fascia as you walk or run. The best method is to first warm-up your calves somehow as they will stretch more easily without straining them. It is best to stretch them while wearing shoes that includes the orthotics we have already discussed (never barefoot and never with cold muscles).
  • It will also greatly benefit you to utilize deep tissue massage manipulate and to loosen the plantar fascia and muscles of the calf. There is a specific muscle called the "posterior tibialis" which almost always involved in the formation of plantar fasciitis. You can use your own home massage devices or try something like a Footsie Massage Roller. If you cannot implement your own massage at home a competent deep tissue massage therapist would be advisable.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Body Torso Elevation for GERD and Acid Reflux

DEFINITION OF GERD: (Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease) is best defined as the symptoms and/or esophageal mucosal damage produced by the abnormal reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus, causing heartburn or acid regurgitation.

Although this often produces discomfort, like burning in the upper chest, indigestion, choking at night and a possible sore throat, there is sometimes no discomfort whatsoever. This prospect is a little disheartening because the stomach acid can be damaging the esophagus without the patient being aware of such until it is too late. In late stages, this disorder can lead to erosion or even cancer of the esophagus. Thus, it is quite important to consult a physician if you suspect you might have such. Approximately 7% of the population suffer from acid reflux.

  • snoring, choking or breathing problems often noticed by a spouse or partner
  • sore throat upon awakening
  • often preceded by recent weight gain around the abdomen
  • H2 Blockers - most commonly Tagament, Pepcid or Zantac and function to reduce stomach acid in mild cases.
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors - most commonly Nexium and Prilosec, function to decrease stomach acid production and thereby provide the chance for the esophagus lining to heal. Usually used in the more severe cases or if H2 Blockers should fail.
  • Antacids - most commonly Mylanta, Tums or Rolaids, function to buffer an acid stomach and are used more symtomatically in intermittent cases of heartburn.

One common problem with all the above medications that is not often considered by physicians and/or patients is the fact that decreasing or buffering stomach acid, stifles proper protein digestion leading to decreased absorption of nutrients and improper elimination via bowel movements. Thus, sensible natural alternatives should be considered. One proven such alternative frequently recommended by gastroenterologists is upper body or torso elevation while sleeping.

There are 2 viable methods of elevating the body to relieve the symptoms of reflux or GERD.

  1. Use an electric adjustable bed. The head and leg portion are both adjustable and can offer great comfort if combined with the right foam mattress. NOTE: a RX from your physician can often substantiate insurance re-imbursement as a necessary medical device.
  2. Use a torso elevating foam or inflatable bed wedge. This is an economical method and also the inflatable type facilitates the ability to travel without discomfort from your acid reflux condition. Most patients find the inflatable type more comfortable than foam even for use at home. Either wedge may be placed at the head of the bed, either on top of the mattress or underneath the mattress. If used on top, we recommend that you use your head/neck pillow on top of the wedge. A soft pillow should be utilized to keep the knees slightly bent to prevent causing low back discomfort when sleeping face up. A wedge may be utilized in both face up and side postures.
  3. DO NOT use regular pillows to elevate the body, they allow slumping and bending of the esophagus and thus allow acid accumulation in the bend.
It's sufficient to say at this time that there are some very good alternatives for the medications that are conventionally prescribed for GERD and acid reflux. However, we'll save that for a future post.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Osteoporosis - Natural, Alternative Treatments

Dear Anonymous "Fragile" person,
Osteoporosis can be a very uncomfortable, scary and debilitating condition. Hopefully, you have a good physician that is working to differentially diagnosis the reason for the early and rapid decline of your bony matrix. Fosamax does have it's drawbacks, although it often is helpful for osteoporosis involving the neck of the femur in the hip. Some of the latest research shows value in natural and alternative supplementation with Calcium Collagen Chelate under the trade name of "Koact". When utilized in conjunction with a good Vitamin K2 supplement and 10 minutes of sun exposure per day the prognosis shows much promise. Research on such is published here: "Increase in bone mineral density through oral administration of shark gelatin to ovariectomized rats"
Nutrition, Volume 21, Issues 11-12, November-December 2005, Pages 1120-1126. In addition, according to Wolff's Law of Bone Adaptation, bones remodel according to stress applied. Thus, weight bearing exercise and iso-tonic exercises like leg press machines can help increase bone mass.