Ice is a natural, external anti-inflammatory. While icing may seem unhelpful or even unpleasant, it works well to decrease pain in the long run– since pain is due to inflammation. How it works is through causing vasoconstriction of the vessels in the foot/leg. Vasoconstriction means that the blood vessels constrict (or close) to some degree, which therefore will slow the blood flow to a given area. Inflammation is the body’s way of sending chemical factors to a site of injury or damaged tissue and in cases of plantar fasciitis (and other injuries) this inflow of blood and inflammatory factors can become excessive. In slowing the blood flow to a damaged area, we can decrease pain by lowering the amount of inflammatory factors that reach the damaged tissue. Icing is a wonderful modality in treating many conditions, but don’t follow the rule of “more is always better.” Icing is recommended to be done for 10-15 minutes at a time for every hour. In cases of plantar fasciitis, icing may only be recommended 2-3 times daily.
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