Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thin layer of tough tissue supporting the arch of the foot. It is caused by repeated microscopic tears of the plantar fascia, which results in heel pain.
X-rays can be used to help identify problems in the heel, as well as discern the presences of calcium deposits that may be contributing to the inflammation. Typically with plantar fasciitis, the pain is worst at the beginning of an activity (such as getting out of bed or beginning a workout) and then gets better as the body warms up. However, prolonged standing can cause more pain, and as the condition progresses, the pain can increase throughout the day.
The causes of plantar fasciitis are tightness of the foot and calf, and weakness of the foot and ankle. Improper footwear and/or lack of footwear can contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis. Also, individuals who have flat feet or increased arches may have a predisposition to developing plantar fasciitis.
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis usually resolve quicker the earlier treatment is begun in the condition’s development. The more time that passes without proper treatment, the longer the symptoms seem to last. If treatment is delayed, symptoms may linger for 6-18 months or possibly longer.
Treatment involves a combination of physical therapy (including stretching and strengthening of the foot and ankle), medication, rest, and possibly orthotics for any foot deviations. Also, splints will be useful to help relieve stress on the plantar fascia during the night.
Physical therapy treatment will include stretching and strengthening of the foot and ankle, along with soft tissue mobilization to the plantar fasciitis to help reduce inflammation and pain. Other modalities to help reduce pain could include ice, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, and iontophoresis. The identification of any foot abnormalities or the need for orthotics and/or night splints will aid in the management and resolution of plantar fasciitis. Proper education on footwear and self-management will then allow the patient to recognize and help stop the progress of this ailment in the future.
If you believe you are having symptoms that seem to be consistent with plantar fasciitis, please do not hesitate to schedule your free assessment with Physical Therapy of Idaho today.
Summarized from the article “Plantar Fasciitis is a Common Cause of Heel Pain” by the Medical College of Wisconsin.
by Kevin M. Saul, MPT