WHAT IS PLANTAR FASCIITIS?
The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue on the sole of the foot that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot. Its function is to support the arch of the foot. Plantar fasciitis is the term given to an inflammation of this tissue that can be caused by multiple chronic stresses to the tissue or a sudden event that causes an over stretching of this band of tissue.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Inflammation of this tissue can be both acute or chronic in origin. An example of an acute onset would be from a sudden overstretching of the tissue such as a quick increase in activity level or change in activity surface eg. Increasing your training level or running on a hard surface such as road as opposed to previous soft trail running. An example of a chronic onset of plantar fasciitis would be due to poor arch support in footwear such as wearing flip flops for a prolonged period or an increase in body weight such as during pregnancy. Over time the lack of arch support provided from the flip flops results in the intrinsic foot muscles that help create the arch of the foot becoming overworked and ultimately fatigued, resulting in an increase workload and stress to the plantar fascia as it tries to maintain the arch, which results in inflammation of the fascia and pain in the feet.
Plantar fasciitis can be seen in those with high arches also. In this scenario, the band is tight most if not all of the time, and so a sudden overstretch to the foot as when flattening out suddenly can create micro tearing at the origin of the fascia and acute inflammation.
Where in the foot is pain felt with plantar fasciitis?
Pain is usually felt in the heel of the foot or the medial (inside edge) of the heel. Usually it occurs upon waking or upon rising after prolonged sitting.
How does physiotherapy help plantar fasciitis?
After a comprehensive assessment to determine the cause of the heel pain, a treatment plan will be created. Treatment may include an exercise program of stretching and strengthening of the feet and lower extremities, manual therapy to restore normal joint and tissue ROM, pain and anti-inflammatory modalities such as Ultrasound, interferential current, ice or heat, or possibly creation of a custom orthotic support to decrease your pain.
The key to treating plantar fasciitis is to seek treatment early in order to return to your optimal health and function quickly.