Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. If you are suffering from plantar fasciitis there are a few things that can be done to relieve the pain.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is a thick, strong band of soft tissue running along the base of the foot connecting the heel bone to the toes. This forms a major portion of the foot’s arch. When the plantar fascia becomes inflamed, tight or develops small tears, this is known as plantar fasciitis.
Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
Often plantar fasciitis is caused by impact and running sports, particularly those which involve toe running. Plantar fasciitis can be due to overuse, poor biomechanics, weakness and overstretching, particularly when this occurs in combination with other medical conditions. Common contributing factors include:
- High arches or flat feet
- Sports which stress the heel bone (running, aerobics, dance)
- Being overweight or obese
- Long periods standing
- Shoes with poor arch support
- Weak foot arch or ankle muscles
What Are the Symptoms?
Often the main symptom experienced will be pain under the heel. This can be sharp or dull. There may also be an aching or burning sensation in the sole of the foot, with or without obvious signs of inflammation such as heat or swelling. The pain is usually worse in the morning, after intense activity, with prolonged standing, or after a period of rest. The pain is often worse with the initial few steps after a rest and improves after some light activity.
Plantar Fasciitis Treatment
Plantar fasciitis can be successfully treated and a full recovery achieved. About 90% of people suffering from plantar fasciitis show significant improvement within two months of beginning treatment. A physiotherapist can assess and treat plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis physio may also include a recommendation to seek advice from a podiatrist depending on the contributing factors identified in your assessment.
The plantar fascia tissue can be slow to heal depending on your general health and other medical conditions. It can take several months for some patients to recover and several different types of treatment with your physiotherapist to successfully recover from plantar fasciitis. Some patients can recover quite quickly however, particularly if the treatment starts early. Treatment will often include stretches, muscle strengthening specific to your foot and ankle, ice therapy, orthotic advice where relevant, taping and advice on activity levels specific to you.
Research has shown that successful treatment and rehabilitation for plantar fasciitis physio needs to include many stages. Initially the focus is on reducing pain, inflammation and associated symptoms as fast as possible. Later stages focus on rehabilitation through a progressive exercise program and specific guidance on appropriate activities to return to. Patients will need to gain their full range of motion back and restore foot arch muscle control to have good long term success.
Treatment may also include restoring calf and leg muscle control as well as normal foot biomechanics. It may be necessary to have a soft orthotic or custom made orthotic prescribed by a podiatrist. A footwear analysis may also be necessary to support recovery and prevent further injury.
A physiotherapist will thoroughly assess symptoms to provide an accurate diagnosis. A treatment plan can then be developed to suit the individual needs. The overall aim of treatment is to:
- Reduce pain
- Restore movement
- Address any biomechanical issues
- Improve flexibility
- Improve strength
- Assess running and walking style
- Educate and advise
- Regain the ability to participate at previous level of activity
Plantar fasciitis is an injury to the tissue in the arch of the foot attaching the heel to the toes, which causes pain and in some cases inflammation. Plantar fasciitis treatment can be very successful in many cases through a series of interventions with a qualified and professional physiotherapist.