Plantar Fasciitis: Can Physical Therapy Help?

by Cindy Binkley, FLT Columnist

You’re alarm goes off, you stand up and start off to grab your first cup of coffee for the day and your stopped dead in your tracks. Excruciating pain in your heel and bottom of your foot! This is the most common symptom of the over 2 million Americans with plantar fasciitis. This common condition involves inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is a strong connective tissue originating at the heel and runs along the bottom of the foot inserting at the toes. The plantar fascia is the primary stabilizer of the arch of the foot and acts as a spring when you walk.
The primary cause of plantar fascia is overuse, typically brought on by repetitive stress; long distance running and a job that requires extended periods of time standing on hard surfaces. There are many other documented causes of plantar fascia such as poor flexibility of the calf muscle, a sudden increase in activity, poor footwear (flip-flops), being over-weight, excessive pronation and not using an arch support. In these circumstances the plantar fascia is aggravated by excessive stretching and flattening of the inside of the arch of the foot, or pronation during the majority of the activity, causing strain, wear and tear and inflammation of the fascia. The pain is worse in the morning. The theory is that while we are sleeping, the fascia is shortening and trying to heal.
Can physical therapy help? Yes, it can! Most people can overcome plantar fasciitis with conservative treatment. The best evidence recommends a treatment protocol consisting of:
1. Manual (hands-on) therapy to inhibit pain and normalize soft tissue and joint mobility of the foot and lower leg.
2. Stretching of the calf muscles and plantar fascia to reduce the stretch forces on the plantar fascia while walking.
3. Iontophoresis is an application uses an electrical current to deliver medication (an anti-inflammatory) to the injured area without having to use a needle.
4. Kinesiotaping has the ability to significantly reduce pain and help with re-training of the biomechanics of the lower leg.
5. A heel lift, arch support of another type of foot support is essential to help with the biomechanics of the foot and to decrease the over use and stretch of the plantar fascia. It is strongly recommended o never go barefoot, even in your house!

Physical therapy is one of the best choices for conservative treatment of debilitation plantar fasciitis. Spring is just around the corner. Take action today so that you are ready and able to hit the pavement when the good weather arrives!

For more information, contact Cindy Binkley, CEO/Administrator at Central Park West Health Center at 419-841-9622, cbinkley@cpwhc.com or go to the website at http://www.cpwhc.com.