What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain or bottom of the foot pain. It is the result of irritation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue on the bottom of your foot that extends from the heel to the toes and helps to support the arch of the foot.
What are the Common Causes of Plantar Fasciitis?
- Faulty foot biomechanics is ultimately the cause of most cases of plantar fasciitis. There are many contributing factors including:
- Age: most common between ages 40 – 60
- Activity: including running activities
- Obesity: especially in the case of rapid weight gain
- Improper/Poor Footwear
- Occupation: those requiring long hours of standing
- Tightness in Calf and Lower Leg Muscles especially on hard surfaces
What are Common Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
- Pain in the heel and/or arch of the foot
- Pain that often develops slowly and is rarely related to trauma
- Pain associated with the first few steps in the morning or after a prolonged period of rest
- Pain occurring after prolonged standing or walking activities
How can Physical Therapy Help?
In order to treat plantar fasciitis effectively, it is important to complete a thorough examination of the entire lower extremity. It is important that the clinician performing the exam have a good understanding of lower extremity, foot and ankle biomechanics, and gait analysis. Once the true cause is identified, a comprehensive treatment program can be initiated to reduce inflammation and improve faulty lower extremity biomechanics.
Treatment Options can Include:
- Joint Mobilization/Manual Therapy
- Proprioceptive/Gait Training
- Strengthening/Flexibility Exercises
- Home Exercise Program
- Anti-inflammatory Modalities (i.e. Ultrasound, Iontophoresis, Electrical Stimulation, Ice)
- Methods to Alter Faulty Mechanics (i.e. Taping, Orthotics)
- Education about Lifestyle Changes (i.e. Proper Shoes, Weight Management Program)