Physiotherapy Clinic in Ville-Saint-Laurent

Physiotherapy for Plantar Fasciitis

With the start of the summer, we tend to see more people suffering from heel pain. Either because of the use of sandals or the sudden increase of walks, you may be one of the 10% of people who experience plantar fasciitis. But just because it’s a common problem doesn’t mean you have to suffer through it! Let’s take a look at this troublesome ailment, and see how you can alleviate your foot pain.

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis occurs when the flat band of tissue that runs from your heel to your toes (known as the plantar fascia) becomes inflamed. This can happen in both feet, or only one, and exhibits as sharp pain in the centre of the heel. The pain is typically worse first thing in the morning, and after long periods of use. The plantar fascia supports the arch of your foot, and problems with it can affect your whole foot health, including your ability to walk comfortably.

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

As plantar fasciitis is an inflammatory condition, there are no specific causes; anything that puts this part of the foot under stress or strain could in theory result in plantar fasciitis. However, there are factors that make development of the problem more likely, such as:

  • Obesity
  • High arches
  • Overly tight calf muscles
  • Repetitive activities that stress the heel, such as running
  • Age – middle aged people are more at risk
  • Poorly fitting footwear

How Do I Treat Plantar Fasciitis?

Proper treatment starts with diagnosis. There is no imaging test that will diagnose plantar fasciitis, and if an x-ray or MRI is suggested, it may be because more serious problems (such as a fractured bone) need to be ruled out first. Plantar fasciitis is usually diagnosed via a medical history, discussion of symptoms and physical examination.

Although the issue is relatively simple to recognize, treatment forms can vary, as no single treatment is guaranteed to work for everyone. Most commonly recommended are:

  • Load management of injured foot
  • Anti-inflammatories modalities such as icing application
  • Physiotherapy modalities such as Ultrasounds
  • Proper footwear or supportive orthotics during acute phase
  • Exercises including stretching

Physiotherapy for Plantar Fasciitis

A physiotherapist (or a podiatrist) will be able to both diagnose and suggest treatment options for your plantar fasciitis. Regulating activity that may worsen the problem and engaging in helpful stretches can significantly decrease recovery time. Stretches that may help  include:

  • Foot flexes
  • Ankle circles
  • Stretching calf muscles
  • Stretching hamstrings
  • Towel stretches for the bottom of the foot

Many of the above stretches can be worked into a routine for before you get out of bed in the morning, to warm your foot up before putting pressure on the affected area. As well as the above, you may need to use a night splint to hold your foot in place while you sleep, massage the bottom of your foot to relieve pressure, and perform more specific stretches before  strenuous activity. You may also need to engage in other foot exercises to help strengthen the ligament and prevent the problem from recurring.

You don’t need to suffer in vain; although plantar fasciitis can be extremely painful, it is also eminently treatable. If you have undiagnosed foot pain, talk to your doctor or physiotherapist to understand your options.

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