Aching feet can take a toll on your everyday life. Chronic foot pain is disruptive to one’s everyday life and can be debilitating enough to put a stop to the everyday activities that are usually taken for granted.
One common cause of foot pain is a condition called plantar fasciitis. This common condition accounts for approximately 1 million visits per year to medical professionals due to heel pain, and an estimated $192-375 million in treatment annually (Foot & Ankle International, 2004). Plantar fasciitis can be chronic and debilitating. Fortunately, there are effective treatments for this condition which can reduce your downtime.
Plantar fasciitis is caused by inflammation and tissue damage of the plantar fascia, which is a ligament on the soles of the feet. The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that connects the heel to the front of the foot, while acting as a shock absorber during high impact activities like running. When the plantar fascia is damaged, a stabbing pain near the heel may be felt. The pain may be worse in the morning or persist throughout the day.
There are multiple causes of plantar fasciitis aside from running and high impact exercise. Wearing high heels or flip flops, standing all day long on a hard surface like concrete, uneven weight distribution between the feet, very low or very high arches, and being overweight are all factors that may contribute to developing plantar fasciitis. These extrinsic and intrinsic factors may make recovering from plantar fasciitis seem improbable, but fortunately there are many treatment options.
Clinical research shows that a treatment plan which utilizes best evidence based practice leads to successful recovery outcomes for 80% of patients affected with plantar fasciitis (American Family Physician, 2005).
Plantar fasciitis is a condition that can be effectively treated by a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT). A DPT will begin with conservative treatment choices, like stretching and manual therapy, that strengthen the surrounding muscles and ligaments and assist with correcting functional problems. A DPT may prescribe calf stretches, towel curls, a plantar fascia self-stretch and arch raises to treat the patient. A DPT may also recommend orthotics to be inserted into the shoes to provide better support and mechanical corrections to the arches of the feet. Regular icing of the sole of the foot is also utilized in conjunction with physical therapy to alleviate pain and soreness.
If these conservative treatment approaches are ineffective, another option with strong clinical outcomes is called Extracorporeal Pulse Activation Technology. More than 80% of patients treated with EPAT experience a full recovery from the plantar fasciitis pain they had prior to treatment. EPAT is a non-invasive and highly effective treatment method that uses pressure waves to stimulate the metabolism, enhance blood circulation, and accelerate the healing process. This treatment is generally completed in five sessions of five to 10 minutes each. The positive outcomes of this procedure may make it preferable to more invasive therapeutic procedures such as corticosteroid injections and the plantar fasciotomy surgical procedure (Foot & Ankle International, 2002).
Plantar fasciitis is common but treatable. The pain that stops you from walking up stairs or running around with your children does not need to persist and receiving treatment from a medical professional can reduce the chances that plantar fasciitis will develop into a chronic condition due to scar tissue buildup.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding chronic pain from plantar fasciitis, or any other chronic pain condition, call ProFysio Physical Therapy for a free consultation with a Doctor of Physical Therapy.