About 2 million people are treated for plantar fasciitis every year. This condition is one of the most common causes of heel pain in your foot. But do you know the warning signs? DMOS Orthopaedic Centers Physical Therapist Shanna Elliott shares more about this condition as well as treatment options.
What are some common causes of plantar fasciitis?
Your foot has a thick bank of tissue known as fascia that runs from your heel to the ball of your foot – which is also known as the plantar surface of your foot. These tissues support the muscles and arch in your foot. When you strain your plantar fascia, it causes the tissue to tear or stretch leading to pain and inflammation.
This is why plantar fasciitis is common in athletes and runners. Long-distance runners, dancers, tennis players and basketball players spend a lot of time on hard surfaces. This combined with improper footwear can lead to the onset of plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is also common in middle-aged individuals with a higher body mass index (BMI) whose jobs involve standing on hard surfaces for long periods of time. Additional causes include decreased strength in the calf and the lack of full joint motion at the ankle.
What are the warning signs of plantar fasciitis?
Pain is one of the most frequent warning signs of plantar fasciitis. Many people experience pain on the bottom and inside portion of their heel. This pain can occur when you take your first steps after waking up in the morning or after prolonged sitting. Even though it may improve with small amounts of activity if you are experiencing these symptoms you may have plantar fasciitis.
Other people experience pain after standing for extending periods of time, climbing stairs or doing heel raises. If you have overpronation – or flat feet – you are more likely to develop this condition.
How to diagnose this condition?
A physician or physical therapist usually diagnose plantar fasciitis. This is done through a physical exam including pain location and symptom progression. Your physician may order an ultrasonography to look at the thickness of the plantar fascia or an MRI to look for tissue changes.
Can physical therapy help treat this condition?
Physical therapy is an option to help treat the symptoms plantar fasciitis causes. When you meet with your physical therapist, they will perform an evaluation by examining your muscular strength, joint motion, and flexibility. Depending on the severity of your symptoms your physical therapist may prescribe a home exercise program, rest, massage, night splints, heel cups/pads, as well as custom orthotics.
Are there any ways to prevent plantar fasciitis?
Fortunately, there are measures you can take to help prevent plantar fasciitis. Elliott recommends that athletes take the time to train properly. Gradual procession into activities, warm-up, and cooldowns that include stretching the calf muscles will help prevent plantar fasciitis.
Proper footwear is also essential in helping to prevent this condition. Athletes and people who stand for prolonged periods of time need to choose the correct shoes that provide support. People who stand on hard surfaces for extended periods of time at work should also consider asking for shock absorbing mats to be placed in their work areas. This will help cushion the foot as well as reduce pain.
“If you think you may be suffering from plantar fasciitis you should consider consulting your physician or physical therapist,” said Elliott. “This condition is different for each person, and they will help you determine the best course of treatment.”