Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition that affects the bottom of the foot. It occurs when the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes, becomes inflamed or irritated. This condition is common in runners and people who stand for long periods of time.
The symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:
- Pain in the bottom of the foot, especially near the heel
- Pain that is worse in the morning or after long periods of sitting or standing
- Stiffness or tightness in the calf muscles or Achilles tendon
- Swelling or redness in the bottom of the foot
- The pain may also be more pronounced in the morning or after exercising.
There are several factors that can contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis, including:
- Overuse or repetitive strain on the plantar fascia, such as in runners or athletes who engage in high-impact activities.
- Tight calf muscles or Achilles tendons, which can put more strain on the plantar fascia.
- Obesity or excessive weight, which can put more pressure on the feet.
- Poor foot mechanics or footwear, such as high heels or shoes with inadequate arch support.
- It is important to seek medical attention if you suspect you have plantar fasciitis, as early treatment can prevent the condition from becoming chronic and more difficult to treat.
Physiotherapy offers a non-surgical and non-pharmacological treatment option for plantar fasciitis. A physiotherapist can help to reduce pain and inflammation, and improve flexibility and strength in the foot and ankle.
Some of the physiotherapy interventions that may be used in the treatment of plantar fasciitis include:
Shockwave therapy: Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive treatment option that has been used for plantar fasciitis. It involves the use of high-energy acoustic waves to stimulate healing and reduce pain in the affected area. The shockwaves can help to break down scar tissue, increase blood flow to the affected area, and stimulate the production of new cells and tissues. This can help to reduce pain and inflammation, improve mobility, and promote healing.
Shockwave therapy is often used in combination with other treatments, such as stretching exercises, strengthening exercises, and manual therapy. Your physiotherapist can create a personalized treatment plan based on your specific needs and goals.
Manual therapy: Manual therapy techniques such as massage, myofascial release, and joint mobilization can help to reduce pain and improve mobility in the foot and ankle.
Ultrasound therapy: Ultrasound therapy uses sound waves to promote healing and reduce inflammation in the affected area.
Taping and bracing: Taping and bracing techniques can help to support the foot and reduce stress on the plantar fascia.
Stretching exercises: Stretching exercises can help to improve the flexibility of the plantar fascia and other muscles in the foot and ankle. Your physiotherapist can show you specific exercises to do at home, as well as stretches to do before and after physical activity.
Strengthening exercises: Strengthening exercises can help to improve the strength of the muscles in the foot and ankle, which can help to support the plantar fascia. Your physiotherapist can show you exercises to do at home or may use resistance bands or other equipment in the clinic.
Orthotics: Orthotics are custom-made shoe inserts and that can be an effective treatment option for plantar fasciitis. Orthotics work by providing support and cushioning to the foot, which can help to reduce stress on the plantar fascia and improve overall foot function.
There are several different types of orthotics that may be used in the treatment of plantar fasciitis, including:
- Prefabricated orthotics: Prefabricated orthotics are pre-made shoe inserts designed to fit a range of foot sizes and shapes. They may be available over the counter at drug stores or online.
- Custom-made orthotics: Custom-made orthotics are designed specifically for the individual and are made based on a mold of the person’s foot. These orthotics may provide a better fit and more targeted support than prefabricated options.
- Heel cups and cushions: Heel cups and cushions are inserts that fit into the heel of the shoe and provide additional cushioning and support to the heel and arch of the foot.
Your physiotherapist will create a personalized treatment plan based on your specific needs and goals. They may also provide advice on footwear, activity modification, and other lifestyle factors that can help to manage your symptoms and prevent further injury.
In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to release tension in the plantar fascia. However, this is usually considered a last resort and is not typically recommended unless other treatments have been unsuccessful.