Human Performance and Rehabilitation Centers, Inc.

Plantar Fasciitis:

Question:
My heel is very painful and my doctor told me I have plantar fasciitis, what does this mean and how can I treat it?

Answer:
The plantar fascia is a tight band of connective tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot attaching your heel to the ball of your foot. Plantar fasciitis is an injury or inflammation to this area, which typically results in heel pain. Patients with plantar fasciitis often report sharp stabbing heel pain which is worst with the first few steps in the morning or after prolonged sitting. The pain may also be more severe after you have been on your feet for a long time.

A physical therapist can evaluate your foot and develop a treatment plan to address your specific needs. The therapist will assess your range of motion, flexibility, strength, walking pattern, and balance. A treatment program of stretching, strengthening, modalities and manual therapy will likely help to relieve your pain and get you back to your desired activities.

Typically frequent stretching of the calf and/or foot is needed to help relieve pain and tension in the plantar fascia. A normal walking pattern is essential to avoid over-stressing other tissues throughout the body. Your doctor or physical therapist will likely recommend you wear supportive shoes as much as possible and may prescribe shoe inserts. Your physical therapist may need to help mobilize your soft tissue, and may use a variety of tools to accomplish this. Massage or tool assisted soft tissue mobilization to the bottom of your foot may be uncomfortable during the treatment, but you should feel better afterwards. You may need to temporarily decrease aggravating activities such as running while you heal. Taping techniques may be necessary to support your painful foot and supportive shoes are essential. Overall, while working with your physical therapist, you should experience a gradual decrease in the intensity and frequency of your pain.