Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common sources of heel pain. The word itself implies inflammation of the plantar fascia, the thick connective tissue that supports the arch of the foot during weight-bearing activities. When patients seek out plantar fasciitis physical therapy, they typically show acute micro-tearing of the plantar fascia as well as chronic buildup of scar tissue from repetitive injury. When the plantar fascia becomes irritated, inflamed, or weakened by injury, every step can be painful. Plantar fasciitis treatment should be sought out if pain persists.
Where is my pain coming from?
There are a number of risk factors that can lead to plantar fasciitis including limitations in dorsiflexion range of motion in the ankle, obesity, diabetes, or even something as simple as wearing the wrong shoes. Studies have shown that limited dorsiflexion and high body-mass index (BMI) in particular are the two biggest risk factors in the development of plantar fasciitis. Patients who are overweight or obese have a 1.4 fold increased probability of plantar fasciitis. If you can believe it, 83% of those affected with plantar fasciitis are working adults between the ages of 25 and 65 years old. It is also a very common injury seen in runners, accounting for 8-10% of running related injuries, mostly due to the heel striking while running that causes compression of the heel pad up to 200% of your body weight.
When should I seek plantar fasciitis treatment?
Early plantar fasciitis treatment is key to avoiding long term problems and more aggressive treatments like injections or surgery. If you’re experiencing heel pain, it’s wise not to ignore these symptoms if they persist. Patients often ignore symptoms of plantar fasciitis because it is not unusual for the pain to go away after the first few steps in the morning or after the first minute or two of a run. Other early indicators of plantar fasciitis include discomfort in the heel or arch while walking after sitting for a prolonged period of time or a “lump” sensation in the foot, similar to the feeling of a rock in the shoe.
How can plantar fasciitis physical therapy help with my pain?
Though there is no “one size fits all” treatment for plantar fasciitis, physical therapists are experts in assessing and treating all musculoskeletal dysfunctions that cause plantar fasciitis and can help to quickly alleviate the primary symptoms in the foot. They’ll also educate you about any compensatory movement patterns that may lead to secondary complications with the knee, hip, or back. Your physical therapist will look up the chain into your lower back and hip (often plantar fasciitis is a result of weak or inhibited hips) to check for any asymmetries in strength or mobility. Unlike traditional orthopedists and family medicine doctors, plantar fasciitis physical therapy treatment helps to directly address the two biggest risk factors: limited ankle dorsiflexion range of motion and a high BMI. Plantar fasciitis physical therapy may also involve:
• Manual therapy techniques to address motion restrictions in the foot, ankle, and calf to relieve pain. Your physical therapist may also utilize joint mobilization, soft tissue massage, and other hands-on techniques for rapid improvement in heel cord and calf mobility.
• Home exercise programs to address issues of high BMI, gait and movement pattern dysfunction, muscle weaknesses, and limited flexibility.
• Patient education to correct any issues of biomechanics that may be contributing to pain symptoms and to minimize foot pronation with the selection of supportive footwear.
Physical therapists can provide the necessary tools to prevent and/or treat plantar fasciitis, allowing you to return to your favorite activities pain-free and better than ever! To learn more about plantar fasciitis physical therapy and how to prevent heel pain with plantar fasciitis treatment, book a physical therapy assessment today.
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“I have been having problems with Plantar Faciitis, a cortisone shot in the foot did nothing to help. Dry needle therapy as well as deep tissue massage have been the miracle is was looking for.”