How Physical Therapy Treats Plantar Fasciitis
Have you ever woken up in the morning with increased foot pain with your first few steps? After walking for a few feet does the pain improve? Pain when pulling or lifting toes/ankle towards your shin? Do you have tenderness and pain with pressure on your heel? If so, you may be suffering from plantar fasciitis.
What is your Plantar Fascia?
The plantar fascia is a piece of connective tissue composed of longitudinally oriented fibers that stretches from the heel out to the ball of your foot. Fibers of the plantar fascia blend in with the Achilles Tendon and small foot intrinsic musculature. Functions of the plantar fascia include shock absorption during weight bearing activities (walking, running), support and stability through the bottom of the foot.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis refers to the inflammation and degeneration of the plantar fascia. Typically, a result of an overuse injury due to repetitive strain causing small, micro tears in the tissues. Plantar fasciitis can also be a result of trauma and other multiple causes.
Plantar Fasciitis Clinical Presentation/Characteristics
- Tenderness to palpation over heel
- Limited ankle Dorsiflexion
- Tightness of calf
- Pain with initial steps after prolonged sitting
How Can Physical Therapy Help Plantar Fasciitis?
A skilled physical therapist can evaluate you to help determine contributing factors, limitations and deficits due to plantar fasciitis. We then help establish individualized treatment plans. A patient may benefit from manual therapy techniques performed by a physical therapist to improve joint mobility of foot/ankle, soft tissue massage of calf, Achilles tendon, soft tissue of foot and plantar fascia. Along with manual therapy, a patient will benefit from therapeutic exercise to address potential muscle tightness, lack of flexibility and any muscle weakness of the lower extremity including the hip, knee, ankle and foot. Exercises may include gastroc/soleus stretching, foot intrinsic strengthening (short foot), general strengthening for lower extremities. Someone suffering from plantar fasciitis may also benefit from IASTM or dry needling interventions to supplement other interventions to get them back to their favorite activities.
If you are experiencing foot pain due to plantar fasciitis, please reach out to us here at AzOPT! We have 5 physical therapy clinics in Arizona ready to help you live and feel better.
Below is a video of a few exercise examples to address plantar fasciitis: