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Plantar Fasciitis: Treatment & Management Principles

After encountering several clients in the clinic this week who suffered from plantar fasciitis, we thought it best to write a blog to identify the key information & management principles around this condition, to facilitate sufferers’ rehabilitation back to pain-free activities.

The plantar fascia is a thick connective tissue which originates in the heel of the foot and extends along the base of the foot and inserts into the base of the toes. In plantar fasciitis, there is persistent pain associated with degeneration and dysfunctional repair processes affecting the plantar fascia.

This condition accounts for around 80% of all cases of heel pain, with a lifetime prevalence of around 10% in the general population. It is more common in women than men and although this condition is seen in people of all ages, it is most common between the ages of 40-60 years. Furthermore, plantar fasciitis occurs more frequently in active populations, such as runners, with the condition accounting for up to 10% of all running related injuries.

With the swing of healthcare turning from treatment to prevention, the understanding of risk factors and management of them is vital. There are many risk factors associated with plantar fasciitis with the most common being:

  • Ankle joint stiffness
  • Lower limb muscle tightness eg calf, quadriceps & hamstrings
  • Excessive foot rotation
  • Prolonged weight bearing activities such as standing & running
  • Poor shoe fit
  • Overweight individuals

If you’re reading this blog because you either have plantar fasciitis or believe you may have it, these common characteristics may sound familiar. The following are common findings in people with plantar fasciitis:

  • Heel pain with the first few steps in the morning or after long periods of sitting
  • Pain located to the front inside heel of the foot
  • Reduced ankle range of movement & tight achilles tendon
  • Pain is worse when walking barefoot on hard surfaces
  • The heel pain suddenly appeared with no apparent injury to the foot

If these symptoms / characteristics are familiar to you then we recommend booking a consultation with one of our physiotherapists for specialist assessment & treatment. We will complete a clinical examination considering your medical history, physical activity, foot pain symptoms & risk factors followed by a thorough physical examination to explore potential diagnoses to formulate an individualised management plan.

Your personalised management plan will include one or several of the following:

  • Strengthening exercises
  • Stretching exercises
  • Mobilisations of the ankle joint
  • Deep tissue massage to the calf & plantar fascia
  • Advice for night time splints for the foot
  • Foot orthoses
  • Pain relief techniques

The vast majority of people who suffer from plantar fasciitis make a complete recovery within 6 months of starting physiotherapy treatment. However, without physiotherapy treatment your rehabilitation can take considerably longer. Therefore, it’s not worth pursuing the ‘wait & see approach’ to your rehabilitation, so come book in for your complimentary physiotherapy consultation to see how we can help you get back onto your feet!

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