By: Richard A. Owens, PT, MS, OCS, Cert. SHT, CWcHP, Cert DN
Plantar fasciitis (PLAN-tur fas-e-I-tis) is a common cause of heel pain in adults. It involves pain and inflammation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia, which runs across the bottom of your foot, connecting your heel bone to your toes.
Your plantar fascia acts like a shock-absorbing bowstring, supporting the arch in your foot. But, if tension on that bowstring becomes too great, it can create small tears in the structure, resulting in persistent pain and irritation with even the simplest daily activities.
Plantar fasciitis usually develops gradually and causes stabbing pain that commonly occurs with your very first steps in the morning. Once your foot limbers up, the pain of normally decreases, but it may return after long periods of standing or with getting up from sitting.
Plantar fasciitis is most common between the ages of 40 and 60, and women are more likely to develop this condition than men. Faulty foot mechanics, such as being "flat-footed" or having a high arch, can predispose an individual to developing plantar fasciitis due to the abnormal stresses placed on your feet. If you have an abnormal way of walking or if you are overweight, this can also contribute to developing this condition. Activities that place a lot of stress on your heels attached structures, such as ballet dancing or long-distance running, can lead to plantar fasciitis.
Appropriate footwear that provides arch support and absorbs shock will help to lessen the stresses placed on your feet from occupations that require you to stay on your feet. Good footwear will help you to avoid this painful and often debilitation condition. If you regularly wear shoes with high heels, your Achilles tendon, which is attached to your heel, can contract and shorten, causing strain on the tissue around your heel.
Ignoring plantar fasciitis may result in a chronic condition that hinders your regular activities. You may also develop foot, knee, hip or back problems because of the way plantar fasciitis changes your walking motion. Conservative treatments for plantar fasciitis may involve the following:
- Physical therapy. A physical therapist can instruct you in a series of exercises to stretch the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon and to strengthen lower leg muscles, which stabilize your ankle and heel. A therapist may also teach you to apply athletic taping to support the bottom of your foot.
- Night splints. Your doctor may recommend wearing a splint fitted to your calf and foot while you sleep. This holds the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon in a lengthened position overnight so that they can be stretched more effectively.
- Orthotics. Your doctor may prescribe off-the-shelf or custom-fitted arch supports (orthotics) to help distribute pressure to your feet more evenly.
Severe cases may require injections or surgical intervention and you should discuss these options with your physician to determine the best plan of care for your specific condition.
If physical therapy is required or recommended our physical therapists are orthopaedic specialists and are very familiar with this condition and how to treat it effectively and efficiently, minimizing the time away from your favorite activities.
Professional Rehabilitation Services is a Physical Therapist owned Private Outpatient Physical Therapy Practice specializing in pain, orthopedics, balance and sports injuries with offices in Myrtle Beach and Pawleys Island, SC. For more information on this topic or to schedule a free consultation with our highly skilled therapists please contact Brian Kinmartin, PT, DPT, MTC, OCS, STC, CWcHP, Cert. DN, at our Pawleys Island office at (843) 235-0200, Richard A. Owens, PT, MS, OCS, Cert. SHT, CWcHP, Cert DN at our Myrtle Beach office at (843) 831-0163 or Richard DeFalco, DPT, OCS, CSCS, CWcHP, Cert. DN at our Myrtle Beach office at (843) 839-1300, or visit us at: www.prs.rehabservices.com.