Physical Therapy Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis is a common musculoskeletal skeletal injury that affects the foot. It usually is associated with sharp pain in the heel to the mid aspect of the bottom of the foot. Pain usually occurs with weight bearing and usually occurs with the first few steps and then lessens. Pain is usually the greatest first thing in the morning, after long periods of sitting, and at the end of the day. Plantar Fasciitis has been known to be an inflammation of the plantar fascia (bottom of the foot) but recent evidence shows that it is caused by microscopic degeneration that results in thickening of the tissue.

Physical therapy can help to treat this diagnosis with patient education, assessment of the foot and ankle, and instruction of exercises, self-massage and ice application. Treatment usually includes assessment of foot/ankle position, flexibility, strength, soft and fascial tissue restrictions, and education on proper shoe wear. Referral for a shoe insert or custom orthotic may also be included in one’s physical therapy evaluation. Shoe wear and foot position can be the root cause of this common diagnosis and with correction it may alleviate a person’s symptoms along with treatment.

Treatment can include stretching of the foot/ankle musculature, strengthening of the ankle musculature, modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation and/or laser, manual therapy for soft tissue and fascial restrictions, and taping for pain and proper alignment. Other than education on proper shoe wear a therapist can instruct and educate in self-massage, ice application, and strengthening/stretching for a home program for patients to manage their symptoms on their own. Self-stretches can include the gastroc (calf muscle), commonly known as a runner’s stretch, the Achilles tendon stretching the soleus muscle, and the plantar fasica (the bottom of the foot). A therapist can also instruct and educate a person on self-massaging with a ball, massage stick, and/or a frozen water bottle and educate on ice application. Seeing a physical therapist for this diagnosis can help reduce pain and future problems allowing a person to return or increase their daily functional abilities.

Rachael Stafford is a full time physical therapist at our Kingwood location. She has been practicing since 2001 and graduated with a Doctorate Degree from Texas Tech University and a Master’s Degree from Florida International University.υ