Plantar Fasciitis Treatment
Plantar fascia is a very strong thick tendon-like structure at the bottom of our foot, that supports the base of the foot extending from the heel to the base of the toes. The plantar fascia is also supported by a number of muscles in the arch of the foot. The plantar fascia plays an important role in normal foot function. This structure helps our foot store energy as we weight bear, assisting with each step, as well as absorbing shock as we land during running or jumping.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis (or fasciopathy) is a term that relates to pain under the foot, more commonly near the heel and or the arch of the foot. This is a common condition that can affect any of us, including both athletes as well as non-athletic people of all ages. This can be very debilitating. The pain usually occurs gradually and is felt on the inside part of the foot, usually closer to the heel. The pain is usually worse in the morning and it often improves with movement and activity. Over time, foot pain can lead to activity limitation, impacting on a person’s ability to stand, walk and run. For many, this can cause loss of quality of life and emotional distress. Common related conditions may include heel spurs, fat pad problems, neuroma’s and metatarsal pain.
How Common Is It?
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. It is more common in females, and in those who perform repetitive activities such as walking and running. It also occurs in people who are sedentary, deconditioned and over-weight who may engage in an unusual bout of activity.
Risk Factors For Plantar Fasciitis:
Risk factors for plantar fasciitis include a sudden increase in loading of the lower limb, change in the loading surface that a person is unaccustomed to, or change in footwear related to a lack of adequate foot support. Having a history of lower limb injuries can also predispose to increased load and pain in the foot. Other risk factors include being sedentary, obesity, poor sleep and deconditioning of the feet and lower limb muscles, in particular the hip muscles. Lifestyle factors such as poor sleep, levels of physical activity, carrying excess belly fat, and poor diet can create inflammation, that make the foot structures sensitive, stiff and sore.
Myths About Plantar Fasciitis:
✖ Plantar fasciitis means the structures in the foot are damaged
✖ I need a scan to guide my treatment
✖ Plantar fasciitis means I should rest and avoid loading my foot
✖ Exercise and loading my foot makes it worse and should be avoided
✖ Orthotics are always necessary to manage my foot pain
Facts About Plantar Fasciitis:
✔ Plantar fasciitis means the structures in the foot are sensitive but not damaged
✔ Scanning is rarely necessary for diagnosis or to guide treatment
✔ Exercise that gradually loads the foot is not harmful for the foot
✔ Even though exercise and movement can be painful, engaging with strengthening and general exercise gradually and frequently reduces the symptoms and increases the tolerance to load over time
✔ If over-weight modifying diet to lose weight can reduce symptoms
✔ Orthotics can be often helpful, but they are not always necessary for the management of foot pain
Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis:
There is strong evidence that physiotherapy interventions can be effective for treating plantar fasciitis. Physiotherapists at Body Logic Physiotherapy can first help identify the main contributing factors associated with your foot pain. Based on this they will develop a plan that may involve a range of strategies to assist with unloading the plantar fascia – such strengthening the muscles of the foot and lower limbs, as well as taping techniques, and in some cases orthotics if indicated. We can also assist in developing a healthy lifestyle which is known to reduce symptoms.
We will first undertake a comprehensive history in order to hear your story, how the pain began and how it impacts on all aspects of your life so we can help you get back doing what you enjoy. We will also ask you about your sleep, activity levels and your lifestyle and goals, so we can help you get healthy and back doing things that are important to you. We will also screen you to ensure the pain isn’t caused by serious health problems.
Following this we will conduct a comprehensive examination. This will usually involve looking at where you hurt, how sensitive your foot structures are to touch, move and load, as well as assessing the strength and endurance of your leg and foot muscles. We may also assess your overall fitness if this is indicated. The examination and treatment will be tailored to each person’s pain and sensitivity levels.
Based on all the information from the examination we will explain to you in simple language the factors that are contributing to your pain and discuss the best treatments options available to you. This may involve:
- Modifying the way you move to make it more efficient and comfortable for you to move and exercise
- Provision of a graduated program to strengthen and condition your lower limb and foot muscles to help you use your body in a more efficient way
- Coach you to (re)engage in physical and social activities that you enjoy as well as other lifestyle coaching
- In some cases taping the foot can provide pain relief to get you exercising again
At Body Logic Physiotherapy we aim to coach people to get back in charge of their body and their health. Why not get in touch with our friendly team, today!