What is plantar fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is a flat band of connective tissue on the sole of the foot that connects your heel to the base of your toes. The plantar fascia helps to support the arch of your foot. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammatory condition of this connective tissue causing pain in the plantar fascia most commonly in the heel when weight bearing
What causes plantar fasciitis?
The condition is most commonly caused by overuse of the plantar fascia resulting in straining the connective tissue causing pain and sometimes swelling. It is common in middle aged people but also in people who are on their feet a lot such as sports people, soldiers and policemen (hence the nickname ‘policeman’s heel’). You are more likely to develop plantar fasciitis if:
- Your feet excessively roll inwards when walking (overpronation)
- You have high arches or flat feet
- You have tightness in your calf muscles
- You are on your feet a lot day to day
- You wear ill fitting or inappropriate footwear
- You are overweight and inactive
What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?
Pain is usually felt under the heel especially in the morning with the first few footsteps of the day and after resting. The pain may then ease off after a few steps but gradually becomes worse as the day progresses. When in the chronic stages of inflammation pain may also be felt at the knee or hip due to a compensated gait (walking pattern).
Diagnosis of plantar fasciitis
A full subjective history of the condition will generally indicate the presence of plantar fasciitis. Then a tailored objective examination will confirm diagnosis. On examination the physiotherapist will assess the way you stand and walk and can look at a number of different things such as your range of motion, flexibility, balance, function and palpation of the plantar fascia to reproduce your pain.
There are several causes of pain in the plantar fascia region and these causes may get missed if a thorough assessment is not carried out. Here at AMS we pride ourselves in carrying out thorough, appropriate assessments to rule out other causes of pain in this region and your therapist will carry out specific tests to differentiate where the pain is coming from.
The primary cause of your plantar fasciitis is due to poor foot biomechanics therefore it is essential to thoroughly assess and correct your foot and leg biomechanics to prevent future plantar fasciitis episodes.
Physiotherapy treatment for plantar fasciitis
There are a number of different treatments that may be used as part of your tailored treatment programme. These may include:
- Soft tissue mobilisations
- Stretching home exercises
- Foot intrinsic muscle strengthening
- Orthotics advice
- Specific advice and education
- Self management techniques
- Re-injury preventative measures
When to seek help from a physiotherapist
You should seek help from a physiotherapist as early as possible as early correct diagnosis of this injury results in more successful, quicker recovery.