The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue, which runs from the heel of the foot towards the ‘ball’ of the foot. Along with other structures, it contributes to supporting the natural arch underneath the foot.
Plantar Fasciitis or ‘Jogger’s Heel’
There are a number of issues a patient can present with if their plantar fascia is irritated or a little unhappy. The most common symptom is pain on the bottom of your heel whenever you put weight onto the foot, particularly when running or jogging. This presentation is suitably nick-named ‘jogger’s heel’. The pain starts right at the back of your foot’s sole and can radiate up to the base of your toes. This can be diagnosed with ultrasound or x-ray imaging to identify a thickening of the tissue, showing that it has become inflamed and sensitised.
The Pain May be Caused by a Change in your Lifestyle
Causes of this can be due to minor changes in your lifestyle, including exercise, or something as simple as different footwear. Shoes with poor padding, especially running trainers, can contribute to the development of these techniques. This is why ‘bare-foot’ or minimalist running shoes have caused some controversy within medical circles.
What Can Your Therapist Do?
With pain on the plantar fascia, your therapist can treat the tissue using an abundance of techniques. Gentle massage, ultrasound, taping prior to activity, provision of orthotics and exercises to re-align a more ergonomic position of the foot are common approaches to combating this condition. It is a condition, which will gradually settle with conservative treatment, although sometimes it can require a steroid injection by your surgeon to ‘cool’ the area down ad promote the healing of the damaged and irritated tissues.
As with many physical ailments in the joints around the foot, this issue can be due to a neighbouring structure or joint. There are some schools of thought that believe that minor issues within the knees and hips such as slight muscle imbalance and tightness, can develop and manifest into pain and extreme loading around the ankle and foot. In cases, which present with plantar fasciitis, you can expect your therapist to do a thorough assessment of your leg to attempt to identify the causal factors of your issues, as opposed to treating the symptoms alone.
A Common Injury
Around 1 in 10 people will develop some pain from their plantar fascia in their lifetime, with the majority of cases being individuals between the age of 40 and 60. Most people recover from plantar fasciitis within a few months to a year, however there have been some cases, which have lasted significantly longer.
Post by Zoe Birch, Head of Orthopaedic Physiotherapy at Physiocomestoyou.