What is plantar fasciitis, and how is it diagnosed?

Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia becomes aggravated. This usually happens because of overuse of the tissues, such as running too many miles per week, wearing high heels, walking barefoot, standing for long periods of time, sitting cross-legged, or being overweight.

The plantar fascia is located just under the skin of the sole of your foot. When it becomes irritated, it pulls up into your heel bone and creates extra stress on the bones and joints of your foot. If you are experiencing pain in your heel, you probably have plantar fasciitis.

The plantar fascia is a thick band of connective tissue running along the bottom of each foot. It connects the toes to the heel bone and helps stabilize the arch of the foot. This band of tissue gets very tight due to overuse and stress. When it becomes too tight, it can cause pain and inflammation. Plantar fasciitis is one of many conditions that can cause heel pain. Other possible causes include nerve compression in the foot or back, stress fractures of the calcaneus, loss of the fatty tissue pad beneath the heel, and a variety of gouty arthritis disorders.

A physio will perform a thorough physical exam and ask about your symptoms. He or she will look for swelling, tenderness, redness, warmth, and/or bruising around the area where you feel pain. You may also have difficulty standing up straight because of the pain.

How a physiotherapist can help you with plantar fasciitis

If you are living with plantar fasciitis, this can often be debilitating and cause mental and emotional stress. Being able to alleviate the pain by working with a professional can often give you a new lease on life and improve your mental and physical health. With physiotherapy input, many plantar fasciitis sufferers are on the road to recovery in just a couple of months. A physiotherapist will work with you to identify trigger points and treat the area using stretches, massage, taping, acupuncture, footwear advice and ice, and they will help you to modify your lifestyle to remove or reduce any activities or exercises that are causing a flare-up of your pain. 

The main symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:

  • Pain after rest periods or after exercise
  • Pain in your heel or under your foot that is generally worse in the morning and when you first start walking
  • Pain that is made worse by stretching the sole of your foot

Depending on your circumstances, there are a number of things your physiotherapist will work with you on. These can include teaching you specific exercises that will strengthen your lower leg muscles, applying tape to support the bottom of your foot or prescribing orthotics or night splints to support stretching throughout the night and to apply even pressure on your feet. 

Three treatments you can do at home to alleviate pain

Depending on how long you have been experiencing Plantar fasciitis pain, you may need to seek help with alleviating the symptoms. A physiotherapist will conduct a thorough examination of you to understand your symptoms and advise how best to treat the pain you are experiencing. 

If you would like to try and alleviate some of the pain whilst in the comfort of your own home, we recommend the following treatments to reduce your symptoms. Your physiotherapist will show you how to complete your exercises correctly to reduce your pain and strengthen your muscles to support your ankle and heel.

Foot Massage

A great massage to alleviate the immediate pain in your heel. Start by crossing your legs over and stretching your toes backwards to tighten the tissue in your foot. Press onto the sole of your foot and message up and down the sole (not the heel). This is a great treatment when you have been inactive for a longer period of time – such as sitting or sleeping. 

Ball Roll

This treatment can be completed with either a tennis ball or a frozen can. Place the ball under your foot and roll from the top to the bottom of your foot and back again. This massage technique is great for use after periods of inactivity. 

Standing Calf Stretch

Start your standing calf stretch by facing the wall and putting your hands up against the wall at eye level. Place your sore foot behind you and your strong foot forwards whilst keeping your injured heel firmly on the floor. Turn your injured foot in slightly and lean into the wall to find the stretch in the back of your calf. Complete this slowly, to begin with, to avoid further injury or pain. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat it three times. 

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Book a plantar fasciitis appointment with Advantage Physio

If you have had a diagnosis of plantar fasciitis or think you may be experiencing symptoms, get in touch with Advantage Physiotherapy today. Our team of experienced physiotherapists have been working within the industry for many years and has supported a variety of clients to improve their wellbeing and lifestyle through active physiotherapy, supportive lifestyle changes and achievable exercises. 

We support clients who have come to us privately or have been referred to us by a local GP to find the best course of treatment for them. Advantage Physiotherapy work with clients to create a tailored physiotherapy plan that will have them back on their feet in no time! Get in touch today to book an appointment or find out more about what you can expect from our experienced team.