Have you got heel pain or plantar fasciitis?

plantar_fasciitis_treatmentDo you get out of bed and are almost scared to put your foot down on the ground because you know the pain in your heel is going to be horrendous? Or do you dread going to the shops, not because your dread shopping, but because you know that by the time you finish the walking your heels are going to ache? If these are some of the niggles you feel then you are more then likely suffering from Plantar Fasciitis.

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

The plantar fascia is the thick fibrous band of connective tissue that connects from the base of the heel to the toes. It is there to help support the arch of the foot. The plantar fascia can develop micro tears or become inflamed and this is known as plantar fasciits.

Causes of Plantar Fascitiis

  • Poor foot biomechanics
  • Weakness of the foot arch muscles (over pronation)
  • Overuse e.g. increase in exercise particularly after a period of no exercise
  • Wearing new or different shoes
  • Trauma to the heel e.g. landing / stepping on a sharp object

Common Symptoms of Plantar Fascitiis

  • Pain in the heel (commonly on the inside) or arch of the foot
  • Pain is worse with first step of the day or after resting
  • Pain improves with activity / once it’s warmed up
  • Pain during or after exercise

How is it diagnosed?

Plantar Fascitiis is diagnosed by your physiotherapist or sports doctor based on your symptoms, history and clinical examination. X-rays may demonstrate any calcification or heels spurs that may have developed on the heel bone while an ultrasound or MRI may demonstrate any tears or inflammation in the fascia however a scan is not necessary for diagnosis.

The next step is to determine why you are predisposed to plantar fasciitis and develop a treatment plan to reduce the risk of it re-occurring.

How do we treat it?

Plantar Fasciitis is a very persistent and nagging pain. It can take several treatments and possibly months to get rid of the pain (which also depends on the amount of time you’ve had the pain before seeking treatment).

Step 1: Reduce pain with soft tissue release, taping methods, reduce activity, foot / calf stretches

Step 2: Regain foot arch strength and calf length and strength

Step 3: Assess foot biomechanics and restore to normal

Step 4: Assess running / walking technique and improve technique so you can return to goal activity

Step 5: Assess foot wear and prescribe appropriate foot wear which may include orthotics