One of the most common causes of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. It occurs when your plantar fascia, a thick band of connective tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot, connecting your heel bone to your toes, becomes inflamed.
The condition causes intense pain in the bottom of your foot, near your heel. Treatment for the condition can usually relieve your pain within several months.
What causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Normally, your plantar fascia acts as a shock-absorber in your foot, supporting your arch. If stress and tension on your plantar fascia become too much, it can result in small tears in this connective band of tissue. Repeated tearing of the plantar fascia can cause it to become inflamed.
Though anyone can develop the condition, certain factors can put you at greater risk of developing it. The condition is most common among individuals 40 to 60 years old. Being flat-footed, having an unusual pattern of walking, or having a high arch also puts you at higher risk of developing the condition. You are also at higher risk if you have an occupation that requires you to stand on a hard surface for long periods of time, such as working in a factory or being a cashier. Being overweight puts extra strain on your plantar fascia.
Additionally, certain types of exercise, such as long-distance running, ballet dancing, ballistic jumping activities, and aerobic dance can strain your plantar fascia.
What are the symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis typically causes a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot, near your heel. The pain is usually at its worst when you take your first few steps after waking up for the day.
The pain may also be triggered by long periods of standing on your feet or by rising from a sitting position. Though the pain may not get worse during exercise, the pain can be worse after exercising. You may also experience pain when you stand on tiptoe or when climbing stairs. Mild swelling in your heel may also occur.
Physiotherapy treatment for Plantar Fasciitis
Most individuals who develop this condition are able to recover within several months using conservative treatments, such as rest, ice, and stretching.
Physiotherapy for Plantar Fasciitis may include wearing night splints and stretching exercises.
Your physio might recommend that you wear a splint at night while you sleep. The splint facilitates stretching and holds your Achilles tendon and plantar fascia in a lengthened position.
Your physiotherapist can teach you exercises that stretch and strengthen your Achilles tendon, plantar fascia, and lower leg.
Apply ice to the painful part of your foot for 15 to 20 minutes three or four times each day to get pain relief. Always wrap your ice pack in a thin cloth, such as a dish towel; never place an ice pack directly onto your skin.
Over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory medications can help relieve the inflammation and pain associated with this condition.
Fortunately, surgery is rarely needed for this condition. Surgery is a last resort and only utilised when everything else has failed to treat severe chronic plantar fascia pain. If surgery is necessary, the plantar fascia is detached from the heel bone. However, weakening of the arch of the foot results when this surgery is done.
Plantar fasciitis is a very common cause of heel pain. It results when your plantar fascia becomes inflamed. Fortunately, the condition can usually be successfully treated with a conservative approach that includes rest, ice, and physiotherapy. If you experience the symptoms of this condition, book an appointment with one of our physiotherapists.