Plantar Faciitis

The plantar fascia is a band of connective tissue, fascia, which runs along the underside (plantar aspect) of the foot.  It connects the base of the toes (heads of the metatarsals) to the heel bone (calcaneous).  The arch of the foot is similar to a bow and the plantar fascia is similar to a bow string.  The tension in plantar fascia helps to support the shape of the arch in the same way the bow string maintains the shape of a bow.  Every time you walk or run you create addition tension to the plantar fascia.  If it is suddenly stretched too hard or too often it can become irritated.

Plantar fasciitis can be characterised by pain on the underside of the foot, generally towards where the plantar fascia attaches into the heel bone.  Pain is normally brought on by weight bearing after long periods of rest.  Those suffering with plantar fasciitis often complain of high levels of pain with their first few steps after getting up in the morning and after sitting for long periods.  Symptoms then usually improves with increased walking.  Plantar fasciitis can be stubborn and last several months, physiotherapy can help people manage their symptoms whilst aiming to reduce pain levels.
If you have any of the symptoms above you should seek to have you foot assessed as soon as possible.  There are several other conditions that could cause similar symptoms in the area which need to be ruled out.
Dependent on the findings from assessment, physiotherapy management may include:
  • Advice and education – helping you to understand the pathology, understand aims of treatment and give realistic guidance on time frames.
  • Activity modification – to reduce the amount of load the plantar fascia takes throughout the day during the recovery period.
  • Manual Therapy – to desensitise the area and maintain flexibility of any tissues/structures in the lower limb.
  • Individually tailored exercise program – including exercises to assist in maintaining flexibility and specific strengthening exercises
  • Heel cushion pads and/or orthotics for comfort and to assist in supporting the arch, therefore reducing the tensile forces the plantar fascia.
  • Acupuncture – to desensitise the area.
  • Taping – to help offload the area.
We may need to refer you to your GP or an ankle/foot consultant for further assessment and investigations.  We are fortunate to have good links with all local GP practices and Orthopaedic Consultants.
If you would like additional information then please contact us.