Plantar fasciitis is a common condition that involves inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, connecting the heel bone to the toes. It is characterized by pain and stiffness in the heel or bottom of the foot, especially upon waking or after prolonged periods of standing or walking. It is a type of overuse injury and is most common in middle-aged people who are on their feet for long periods, as well as athletes and runners.
Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is typically caused by repetitive strain or injury to the plantar fascia. The following factors can increase the risk of developing plantar fasciitis:
Overuse or repetitive strain: Engaging in activities that involve repetitive strain on the feet, such as running, dancing, or standing for prolonged periods, can put excess stress on the plantar fascia, leading to inflammation and injury.
Foot structure: People with flat feet or high arches may be more prone to developing plantar fasciitis due to the abnormal distribution of weight and pressure on the foot.
Tight calf muscles: Tightness in the calf muscles can put extra strain on the plantar fascia and increase the risk of injury.
Obesity: Being overweight or obese can put extra strain on the feet and increase the risk of developing plantar fasciitis.
Age: Plantar fasciitis is more common in middle-aged people, as the plantar fascia becomes less flexible and more prone to injury with age.
Poor footwear: Wearing shoes that do not provide adequate arch support or cushioning can put extra strain on the plantar fascia and increase the risk of injury.
Signs and Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
The signs and symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:
- Pain: The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is a sharp or stabbing pain in the heel or bottom of the foot. The pain is typically worse in the morning or after periods of inactivity and may improve with activity but return after prolonged standing or walking.
- Stiffness: The foot may feel stiff and difficult to move, especially in the morning or after prolonged periods of rest.
- Tenderness: The bottom of the foot may be tender to the touch, especially around the heel or arch.
- Swelling: Inflammation of the plantar fascia can cause swelling in the foot and heel.
- Difficulty standing or walking: The pain and stiffness associated with plantar fasciitis can make it difficult to stand or walk for prolonged periods, which can interfere with daily activities.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention to properly diagnose and treat the condition.
Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis
Physiotherapy can be an effective treatment for plantar fasciitis. The goals of physiotherapy treatment are to reduce pain and inflammation, improve flexibility and strength, and prevent further injury. Some common physiotherapy treatments for plantar fasciitis include:
Stretching exercises: Physiotherapists can teach you specific stretching exercises to help stretch the calf muscles and plantar fascia, which can reduce pain and improve flexibility.
Strengthening exercises: Strengthening exercises can help improve the strength of the foot and lower leg muscles, which can help support the plantar fascia and reduce the risk of injury.
Footwear modification: A physiotherapist can provide advice on appropriate footwear to help support the foot and reduce strain on the plantar fascia.
Taping or bracing: Taping or bracing the foot can provide additional support to the plantar fascia and reduce pain and inflammation.
Manual therapy: Physiotherapists can use manual therapy techniques, such as massage or joint mobilization, to help reduce pain and improve mobility.
Ultrasound therapy: Ultrasound therapy can be used to help reduce inflammation and promote healing of the plantar fascia.
Activity modification: A physiotherapist can provide advice on modifying activities to reduce strain on the plantar fascia and promote healing.
It is important to work with a qualified physiotherapist to develop an individualized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs and goals.
If you have any questions or would like to speak to a therapist about plantar fasciitis please call us at 03 9836 1126.
Lee, W. C., Wong, W. Y., Kung, E., & Leung, A. K. (2021). A randomized controlled trial comparing the effects of stretching and strengthening exercises with and without ultrasound in the treatment of plantar fasciitis. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation