What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a condition where pain usually develops in the bottom of the heel due to the plantar fascia becoming overloaded. The two most common loads which seem to aggravate the plantar fascia include excessive tension and compression stress.
The plantar fascia is a tendon like structure which helps to stabilise the arch of the foot. It attaches to the heel bone and then runs forward and connects to the ball of the foot.
Plantar fasciitis may resolve completely on its own but without effective treatment this may lead to:
- Pain which becomes more severe
- Cessation of exercise and sport
- Pain avoidance movement patterns
- Typically presents as pain in the bottom of the heel; usually in one foot
- It is usually of insidious onset
- Pain is often worse in the morning and decreases with activity
- Periods of inactivity followed by activity will usually aggravate the heel
- As the condition worsens, pain becomes more frequent during periods of standing and weight-bearing activity
The first phase of treatment typically involves desensitising the heel which is achieved by reducing load on the plantar fascia. This may involve one or more of the following treatments:
- Education around load management and activity modifications
- Strapping to help offload the plantar fascia
- Footwear modifications in order to improve the way you run and/or walk and to reduce stress on the plantar fascia
- Foot orthotic therapy which may include either off-the-shelf or custom foot orthoses
- Shockwave Therapy
- Laser Therapy
The second phase of treatment consists of the rehabilitative phase. The purpose of this phase is to help improve function, increase tissue capacity and improve load tolerance which is typically achieved over a 6-12 week period.