Plantar Fasciitis: How to Diagnose and Treat Effectively

The plantar fascia is a thick, fibrous ligament that connects your heel bone to the ball of the foot. These connective tissues provide support to the arch of the foot, stabilizing your walk.

When you run or walk, you are causing the plantar fascia to stretch, as it pushes your foot off the ground to give you stability of movement. Because these tissues see a lot of wear and tear each day, they can become inflamed and cause pain and stiffness. This inflammation in the plantar fascia is known as plantar fasciitis.

The major complaint of people with this type of injury is a stabbing pain on the heel that gets worse when getting out of bed or when standing up after sitting for a prolonged period. This pain occurs because a prolonged rest causes the fascia to tighten. During the morning, it can be very challenging to walk up the stairs because of this heel stiffness. Walking throughout the day can elongate the fascia and make it less painful to walk or run, but the symptoms may still come back towards the end of the day.

Just as long periods of rest causes stiffness in the fascia, a rapid increase in physical activities can also put excessive stress on these connective tissues. Immediately after you stop running or walking, you may feel a dull pain due to the increased inflammation of the plantar fascia. People with plantar fasciitis also experience heel tenderness and at times a tingling sensation in the involved foot. The pain and discomfort may be even worse when you try to flex your toes and foot upward.

Causes of Plantar Fasciitis

While it may seem like plantar fasciitis occurs for no apparent reason, the fact is that there are a number of factors that contribute to this injury. Plantar fasciitis is typically associated with high-impact sports and activities such as ballet, dancing, and running. If you constantly engage in running sports that involve toe running, then you may be at a higher risk of plantar fasciitis.

Another factor that plays a role in the onset of this injury is weight gain. With the increased pressure on your feet and ankles, they end up bearing the load of your body weight. This pressure on the sole of the foot can be even greater when you have flat feet.

Over-training or a sudden increase in the intensity and duration of your exercises and work may also strain the plantar fascia, resulting in micro tears and inflammation in the connective tissues. As such, it is important to give ample time for your body to adjust to any change in intensity of workouts or manual labour.

Just as excessive manual labour and training can lead to plantar fasciitis, so can too little activity. If you do not engage in any physical activity, you are allowing your plantar fascia to become less flexible. Keep in mind that when you are at rest, the plantar fascia is shortened, which can make it painful for you to walk especially after a long period of inactivity.

Home treatment for plantar fasciitis include resting and applying an ice pack on the affected foot for at least 15 minutes, with an interval of two to three hours. Doing stretching exercises can also help in relieving the pain associated with the injury.

Physiotherapy for Mobilizing the Foot and Ankle

During your first visit to a physiotherapist, you will need to share your history of the problem, and the symptoms you are experiencing. This will help your physiotherapist make a proper diagnosis based on the level of pain and discomfort you are experiencing and based on the result of your physical examination. Once your diagnostic examination is complete, your physiotherapist will then work with you to design a treatment program that will allow you to return to your normal day-to-day activities. Your treatment plan can consist of exercises that are aimed to improve flexibility in your plantar fascia, and in your calf muscles.

Examples of treatments that may be applied to alleviate pain and swelling are soft-tissue therapy, which involves using massage techniques that differ in pressures and depths to help reduce muscle tension and improve blood circulation.

Your physiotherapist may also prescribe simple exercises that you can perform at home to stretch not only your plantar fascia but your calf muscles as well.  With a combination of different physiotherapy approaches, you will have a better opportunity to find relief from your symptoms, and to return to your active lifestyle.

Finding A Local Physiotherapist

If you’re located in Perth, here at Trained Physio & Fitness we have a special interest in treating clients for plantar fasciitis. We’ve helped hundreds of clients recover from the discomfort of plantar fasciitis and other common injuries.

Located in East Perth, we are one of the few Physios in Perth that have it’s own Gym that we can use throughout your rehabilitation, if required, to aid in treatment and recovery.

We offer a gap free 20 minute consult for new patients with private health insurance and this is the perfect opportunity for you to see our Physiotherapists who will be able to diagnose you correctly before implementing your treatment strategy. Book an appointment online today or call us for more information about how we can help you feel your best.