What causes Plantar Fasciitis?
One out of 10 people in the United States experience persistent pain along the bottom of the foot, a condition known as plantar fasciitis.
The plantar fascia is a long, thin ligament that lies directly beneath the skin on the bottom of your foot. It connects the heel to the front of your foot, and supports the arch of your foot. The plantar fascia is designed to absorb the high stresses and strains we place on our feet. But, sometimes, too much pressure damages or tears the tissues. The body's natural response to injury is inflammation, which results in the heel pain and stiffness of plantar fasciitis.
The major complaint of those with plantar fasciitis is pain on the bottom of the heel. But some people experience pain at the bottom mid-foot area. The pain usually develops gradually over time. The pain is usually worse in the morning when you take your first steps out of bed, or if you’ve been sitting or lying down for a while. Going up and down stairs can be very difficult due to heel stiffness. Pain isn’t usually felt during activity or exercise, but increases afterwards when the tissues cool down and become more stiff and inflammation increases.
The key to proper treatment of plantar fasciitis is seeing what is the cause of the strain on the fibrous tissue that is meant to support the foot. It could be the biomechanics of the foot, it could be excessive weight, it could be hip weakness that prevents the foot from striking the ground properly. Assessment by a physical therapist is a great first step in finding a permanent solution to plantar fasciitis.
In the February 2017 issue of JOSPT, researchers reviewed the records of people with plantar fasciitis who were sent to physical therapy. Using the clinical practice guidelines published in 2014 of the Orthopedic Section of the APTA using manual therapy and exercise for treatment of Plantar Fasciitis, this 2017 study supports prior studies that show faster recovery time for those who receive evidence-based physical therapy for their foot pain.
J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2017;47(2):56. doi:10.2519/jospt.2017.0501
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