What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis causes pain at the bottom of the heel. The plantar fascia is a thick, web-like ligament that links the heel to the front of the foot. It assists in walking and supports the arch of the foot.
One of the most common complaints received in orthopedic clinics is plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia ligaments undergo a lot of wear and tear in a person’s daily life. These ligaments serve as shock absorbers, granting support to the arch of the foot. Excessive pressure on the foot can tear or damage the ligaments, resulting in an inflammation of the plantar fascia. It is this inflammation that then causes stiffness and pain in the heel.
Most patients of plantar fasciitis complain of pain below the heel. Some patients may experience pain in the bottom mid-foot area. The pain gradually develops with time. Usually, just one foot is affected; but in extreme cases, it can affect both feet. The pain can be sharp or dull, depending on the patient. Others may feel an ache or a burning sensation on the bottom of the foot radiating toward the heel.
The pain usually gets worse in the early mornings after the patient has stepped out of bed, or if he or she has been lying down or sitting for a while. Climbing the stairs may be a difficult task due to the stiffness of the heel.
After a prolonged active session, the pain may increase in intensity due to a rise in inflammation. Pain is not felt while the activity is ongoing but after it has stopped.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis
Many factors can trigger the onset of the disorder. The risk is increased if the person is obese or overweight. Being overweight lays excessive pressure on the plantar fascia ligaments, especially if the weight gain occurred suddenly. Pregnant women often experience episodes of plantar fasciitis, especially in late pregnancy.
Long distance runners may also experience the disorder. People involved in blue collar jobs that consist of standing for prolonged periods of time, for instance, individuals who work in a restaurant or in a factory, are also at risk. The highest risk is faced by active men and women within the 40-70-year age range. Women have a higher risk of developing the disorder than men.
People with structural foot problems such as flat feet or high arches may develop the disorder.
How Cannabinoids Can Help
Cannabinoids can play a role in easing pain and managing some of the causes of plantar fasciitis. The following are just some of the cannabinoids and the therapeutic properties they can offer for someone suffering from this disorder:
- Cannabidiol (CBD) has analgesic effects. Studies have shown that it has some benefits if taken after chemotherapy. Research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health is studying the role of CBD in relief of symptoms associated with:
- CBD has anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation impacts negatively on one’s ability to engage in physical activities. In many cases, this inflammation may be due to strenuous exercise such as the lifting of heavy weights and high-impact cardio. CBD has significant anti-inflammatory properties (as defined by the Laboratory for Integrative Neuroscience, NIH). With this, it can suppress the inflammation of inflammatory responses by antagonizing certain receptors.
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) also has anti-inflammatory effects. It has a high affinity for and activates both CB receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The psychoactive effect of THC is promoted by its CB1 receptor. The other receptor, CB2, is present in the gastrointestinal tract and the immune system. These receptors stimulate therapeutic benefits when activated.
- Cannabigerol (CBG) reduces inflammation by acting on special molecules that trigger the inflammatory processes in many disease states such as cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and pain syndromes. Additionally, studies have shown that CBG can act as an inhibitor for COX-2, an enzyme that causes pain and swelling.
- Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) suppresses the appetite: Unlike THC, THCV has the potential to inhibit or suppress one’s appetite. This is a great natural approach for patients who need to lose weight to ease their plantar fasciitis.
- THCV reduces swelling and pain: A study by Riedel et al., published in 2009, the research team found that THCV reduces swelling and pain in mice. These are two of the main symptoms of inflammation after exposure to inflammatory chemicals.
Studies have shown that cannabinoids tackle pain by inhibiting the transmission pf pain signals through the neuronal pathways. A 2006 study published in the European Journal of Pharmacology evaluated the immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis with regards to pain. Researchers discovered that CBD drastically reduced the quantity of some pain-related biomarkers, indicating “a potential for therapeutic use of cannabidiol in chronic painful states.”
The Bottom Line
Specific cannabinoids have shown promising results in research, having therapeutic effects on very specific conditions. Various cannabinoids possess unique medicinal properties that have beneficial effects on a variety of diseases, conditions, and disorders. It is apparent that cannabinoids can offer safer, more natural pain-relieving alternatives to conventional treatments.
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- Cannabis and cannabinoids. (2016).
- Hammell, DC, et al. (2016). Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis.
- Russo EB. (2008). Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain.
- Volkow ND. (2015). The biology and potential therapeutic effects of cannabidiol.