About one in ten people in the United States will suffer from heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis at some point in their life. While plantar fasciitis is a very treatable condition, the pain and dysfunction can be debilitating, and healing can take up to several years if left to heal on its own. Studies have shown that people undergoing physical therapy treatment for plantar fascia pain reported less pain and better function at six weeks and six months than patients who did not seek physical therapy intervention.
Several factors make development of plantar fasciitis more likely. Both having feet with high arches and flat feet increase the likelihood of developing heel pain due to the increased stress placed through the fascia. Tight calf muscles pull the foot into plantar flexion or a pointed toe position which increases the stress across the plantar fascia especially during sleep. Additionally, females, people that are overweight, and runners all are at risk for development of this condition. Determining causative factors for plantar fasciitis can be a key element in a speedy recovery!
Ok, I developed heel pain, now what?
Treating plantar fasciitis is a challenge that requires critical thinking and individualization of exercises and interventions to each person. The main effective treatments for plantar fasciitis include:
- Night Splints: Splints worn during the night to keep the ankle in a neutral position have been shown to be effective in over 80% of people with plantar fascia pain
- Stretching and strengthening: stretches that target the plantar fascia and calf muscles are used in conjunction with exercises to strengthen the muscles of the feet to help improve the position of the ankle and joints in the feet
- Ice: rolling the bottom of the foot where the plantar fascia is located over a frozen water bottle reduces the pain from inflammation
- Orthotics: inserts placed into the shoe to support the arch of the foot can align the joints into a neutral position and relieve the stress placed through the plantar fascia. It is important to have a podiatrist or physical therapist measure and evaluate your foot to help you pick out the correct orthotic!
If you are suffering from foot pain and are unable to do the things you enjoy, reach out to A. Fox Physical therapy today to heel that pain!