Plantar Fasciitis is a condition that is often seen in Physiotherapy. It is most common in the 40-60 year age group and affects slightly more women than men. Often it is a problem seen in people who spend a lot of time on their feet at work, and runners.
The plantar fascia is a tough and flexible band of tissue that runs under the sole of the foot. It connects the heel bone with the bones of the foot, and acts as a kind of shock absorber to the foot.
Plantar Fasciitis usually presents as pain in the base of the heel of the foot, which usually builds up gradually and gets worse over time. Causes often include a change in sports activity or footwear, tightness through other muscles or joints in the leg and reduced core stability.
The pain is usually worse first thing in the morning, or when you first take a step after a period of inactivity. Once up and about, the pain usually improves, but often gets worse again after walking or standing for a long time.
Physiotherapy treatment for this condition often includes manual therapy to address muscle or joint tightness, and this problem often responds well to release of the sole of the foot using a spikey ball. The use of tape can assist with providing relief, along with ultrasound to aid healing and reduce inflammation.
Stretches are usually taught for practice at home, particularly to gain length in the calf muscles. Core stability exercises assist with stability from the spine and pelvis down through the hip, knee and into the foot to reduce biomechanical stresses on the foot and also to address or prevent secondary problems. Gel heel pads and in some cases orthotics for shoes are used to reduce pressure and assist with correct foot alignment.
Some people may limp or develop an abnormal walking style as they try to avoid placing weight on the affected heel, this can in some cases lead to further pain and problems through the foot, knee, hip or spine.