A Real Pain in the Foot- Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis Treatment | Advanced PMR Many of you are probably familiar with the term “Plantar Fasciitis” or may have even been diagnosed with it in the past. However, how many of you truly understand what the plantar fascia is or what is causing you to have terrible pain in your feet? This blog post will go into the details of the diagnosis of Plantar Fasciitis, including what causes it, common signs and symptoms, and different treatment options to help get you back on your feet faster!

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

The Plantar Fascia is simply a long sheath of connective tissue on the bottoms of your feet that extends from the heel bone to the balls of the feet. The purpose of this broad, fibrous sheet of connective tissue is to add stability to the foot while the foot is in a weight-bearing position (i.e. Walking or going up/down stairs). When this fascia gets irritated, it may become inflamed, weaken, and eventually start to form scar tissue, all three of which may cause pain to a person.

Why Does Plantar Fasciitis Develop?

There is no simple answer as to why someone may develop Plantar Fasciitis in their feet, but some common risk factors are as followed:

    • Excessive pronation of the foot (i.e. Flat-footed)
    • Increased weight-bearing (i.e. Standing at a job, running, etc.)
    • Increased body weight
    • Improper shoe fit
    • Loss of ankle range of motion (especially Dorsiflexion which is the motion of moving your toes towards your nose)

 

What are the Common Signs and Symptoms?

    • Heel pain with the first few steps in the morning or first few steps after non-weightbearing for a long period of time
    • Tenderness located at the inside of your heel
    • Tightness of the calf musculature or limited Dorsiflexion range of motion
    • Pain increased with wearing flat shoes/no shoes
    • Pain increased with walking on hard, flat surfaces or navigating stairs

 

How Can Physical Therapy Help?

    • Strength Training- this includes the entire leg with more of an emphasis put on the ankle/calf/foot musculature
    • Stretching- the major areas of focus here at the Gastrocnemius and Soleus (the two calf muscles) and the plantar fascia itself
    • Mobilizations of the Ankle Joint- this can help a joint that lacks mobility to move properly again, reducing the stress on the plantar fascia to help decrease symptoms
    • Night Splints- this can be used to keep the foot in a dorsiflexed position at night to help stretch out the calf musculature and plantar fascia
    • Orthotics- these can help reduce the stress on the plantar fascia in someone who has a flat foot
    • Taping Techniques
    • Modalities- including iontophoresis, ultrasound, and heat application
    • Patient education regarding management of symptoms away from physical therapy

As you can see, physical therapy can be a great help to patients undergoing signs and symptoms associated with plantar fasciitis. Research shows that about 10-15% of the US population will experience symptoms associated with plantar fasciitis each year. On a more positive note, approximately 90% of the cases are successfully treated with conservative care such as physical therapy. So, if you are experiencing pain in heel of your foot or feet, stop on in so we can help you get back to walking the boardwalk at the beach or getting back to training for that marathon!

Posted in: Ankle/ Foot

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