These Feet Were Made for Walking
By: Clarence Holmes, PT, DPT
“OUCH!!!!! I just got done playing tennis and my foot is killing me!”
“Man, when I stand at work for more than 20 minutes, my foot really starts to hurt.”
“Every time I take a step in the morning, my foot is in so much pain! It eventually gets better, but I don’t know what is going on. I’ve got to go see my doctor.”
Or do you? If you have said any of the above, then you definitely want to tune in to this blog post!
Foot pain can be the result of various causes and often times, it is the result of plantar fasciitis. But do you know what that is? And while you are right that you may need to see your doctor, it is the Doctor of Physical Therapy who can help you with this issue. Firstly, though, let’s briefly discuss exactly what plantar fasciitis is.
Quick Medical Terminology Lesson
The suffix “itis” means “inflammation.” When it is attached to the end of a word, it means inflammation of the word that it’s attached to. For example, plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia and arthritis is inflammation of the joint (arthro- means joint).
Good to know, right? It’d be helpful to know what the plantar fascia is too, though, right? Glad you’re so inquisitive.
The plantar fascia is a thick band of connective tissue that extends from the medial aspect of the heel bone (calcaneus) to the bases of the metatarsals of the foot. Commonly, the proximal attachment site at the calcaneus can become irritated and inflamed. This leads to an increase in pain at the medial calcaneal tubercle when weight bearing or when this area is touched. It is a fairly common condition and affects 10% of the population over their lifetime.
There are several factors that can lead to plantar fasciitis, all of which lead to added stresses to the plantar fascia. Some are listed below:
-Flat Foot (over pronation)
-Inability to raise the top of the foot towards the front of the leg (dorsiflexion)
-Increased Body Weight
-Increase in exercise program (i.e. longer distance running)
Signs and symptoms of plantar fasciitis include increased pain in the bottom of the foot near the heel bone, especially when weight bearing, pain that is worse in the morning, and increased pain in the bottom of the foot following a strenuous activity such as running or playing tennis.
If you have noticed any of these symptoms, please consult with your physical therapist about your treatment options.
Physical Therapy Intervention
During the initial examination, your physical therapist will perform several different examination procedures to in fact diagnose you with plantar fasciitis. Your physical therapist can then employ several different techniques depending on the primary cause of pain:
-Manual therapy to increase ankle range of motion.
-If calf muscle extensibility is the main issue, stretching exercises may also be suggested to assist in attaining more range of motion.
-Your physical therapist may also utilize taping techniques or recommend orthotics to help maintain proper arch support.
-A night splint may be suggested as well so that adequate foot positioning is maintained during sleep so that morning pains are minimized.
-Cold therapy may be used as well as other modalities to help control inflammation.
***No matter the exercise or technique, the intent of the intervention will be to offload the plantar fascia to prevent recurring injury***
Physical therapists are extremely successful at treating plantar fasciitis and can have a profound impact on your pain. It has been researched and shown that most cases of plantar fasciitis can be helped with conservative management, such as physical therapy, and surgery is rarely required. If you need to find a physical therapist in your area, you can use the Find A PT section of www. MoveForwardPT.com.
For more information about plantar fasciitis and the rehabilitation process, visit this link.