What Actually Is Plantar Fasciitis? | Cardin & Miller

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What is Plantar Fasciitis?

plantar fasciitis model

Have you had pain in your foot or heel for more than seven days?

Has a friend or relative suggested that you may have "Plantar Fasciitis?"

One of the more common reasons for pain in the heel and arch is Plantar Fasciitis. It occurs when the “Plantar Fascia” in the foot develops inflammation, and the whole foot becomes stiff and sore. 

But what is the Plantar Fascia?

The Plantar Fascia is similar to a ligament. It's a thick band made up of strong elastic connective tissue fibers which run from the heel to the ball of the foot and up to the toes.

The Plantar Fascia then joins the foot bones and helps create the “arch” at the bottom of the feet. That's why you usually feel the pain right in the arch, near the heel.

The medical condition, Plantar Fasciitis, can occur when you overuse or overstretch the Plantar Fascia or from foot mal-alignments such as flat feet or high arches.

That includes any injury or damage to the Plantar Fascia that leads to swelling and inflammation.

As a consequence of this type of injury, overstretching, or overuse, your foot can feel extremely tight and painful, which also affects movement.

In most people, Plantar Fasciitis occurs in a single foot, but there are rare instances when it can affect both feet. 

The condition is quite common. We see many cases of Plantar Fasciitis in the clinic, and there are said to be more than two million+ people receiving treatment for plantar fasciitis every year.

Unfortunately, studies suggest that about one in ten will experience Plantar Fasciitis at some point in their lives.

But don't worry. We have some good prevention tips for you.

Plus, at Cardin & Miller, we can quickly help you end the misery of this type of foot pain and many other types of foot and ankle pain without you having to wait for a doctor’s appointment or pop numerous pain pills with negative side effects every day.

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What Are The Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?

physical therapist examining patient with plantar fasciitis

In most cases, Plantar Fasciitis causes a dull ache at the bottom of the foot or heel – with the pain varying depending on the type and intensity of the activities you do.

The most commonly seen symptoms of this common foot complaint are: 

  • Swelling in the heel area
  • Tightening of the Achilles tendon
  • Stiffness and pain in the heel of the foot
  • Persistent pain in the arch area

Some of these additional symptoms that you might encounter with this condition include:

  • Pain when you stand after sitting or sleeping. But after a while, the pain gradually dissipates with movement.
  • Acute pain when you place weight on the heel or use the foot.
  • A persistent dull ache.
  • Movement provides temporary relief, but the pain worsens every time you stop moving and are at rest. 

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

strenuous activity causing plantar fasciitis

The cause is often different for every single patient we see in the clinic. But any type of injury or irritation to the Plantar Fascia can lead to the development of Plantar Fasciitis. This irritation and/or inflammation may occur due to many things, such as: 

Strenuous sports activities

Working out on a firm hard surface for an extended period

Remaining on your feet for many hours

Doing any kind of exercise without a warm-up or stretching exercises

Not wearing shoes/foot support and walking barefoot when at home

Wearing improper footwear that does not offer adequate support to the feet 

There are certain health conditions that can also lead to Plantar Fasciitis, such as:

Being obese especially sudden weight gain in a short period

Having flat feet

Being born with feet that have high arches 

What Is The Treatment For Plantar Fasciitis?

doctor examining patient's foot

When you work hard, run, or play many sports, it's easy to think that foot/heel pain is normal. Often patients ignore it thinking that it'll go away on its own.

But it rarely does because there is usually an underlying/root cause that is contributing to your issues.

But sometimes, in very mild cases, you can manage Plantar Fasciitis pain at home with over-the-counter medications, heat therapy, and rest.

Good foot support and footwear can also help with symptom relief and prevent the condition's recurrence.

But we always recommend that you consult a Physical Therapist as soon as possible when you have any sort of musculoskeletal pain to prevent more serious problems from developing later.

Some of the standard recommendations for Plantar Fasciitis include the following:

Taking NSAIDs for inflammation and pain. However, you should only take them for a maximum of 10 days (if at all) and only after consultation with your doctor. 

Use ice packs on the foot for up to 15 minutes once or twice a day. Another option is to use a frozen water bottle wrapped in a towel and then roll it along the inflamed area of the foot. 

Give the foot adequate rest over a number of days by avoiding any activity that will irritate the Plantar Fasciitis. 

Using a specialized walking boot called a cam walker. This device helps to keep the foot firmly in one position and relieves the build-up of pressure on the foot. 

Using the right kind of footwear that offers adequate support. Such as avoiding shoes that have no heel or do not offer support to the foot's arch. It may also be recommended that you avoid walking bare-foot. 

Doing stretching exercises and massaging the foot. A professional Physical Therapist can guide you on the best massage techniques and specific stretching exercises to use for Plantar Fasciitis.

Wearing shoe inserts that offer extra support to the arch of the foot. This process needs to be done properly and fitted for you by an expert in foot orthotics. In some cases, you may need to get a customized insert made that is molded to your foot shape. We provide Custom Foot Orthotics service at Cardin & Miller, which can also help with back, hip, and knee pain, as well as foot pain and Plantar Fasciitis.  

Shock therapy, known as EPAT (extracorporeal pulse activation technology), may be used where sound waves are focused on the affected foot to improve blood circulation to the fascia to promote quicker healing.

There may also be a need to inject (PRP) platelet-rich plasma to repair the injured fascia. Anti-inflammation medication in the form of corticosteroids can also be injected into the Plantar Fascia to relieve inflammation.

In certain cases, your doctor may opt for a percutaneous tenotomy, where they insert a needle into the Plantar Fascia. This results in more blood being circulated to the affected part, which will help to promote quicker healing.  

How Can We Help Your Plantar Fasciitis?

woman having foot inspection to treat ailment

Physical therapy:

Treatment with a Specialist Physical Therapist who has an interest in foot and ankle conditions is by far the most effective treatment for Plantar Fasciitis.

We use a combination of technically advanced foot orthotics, hands-on physical therapy techniques, and specific stretching and strengthening exercises to find and fix the root cause of Plantar Fasciitis, so you can get back to doing everything you love without worrying about foot pain.

We get you and your feet moving again.

Surgery for Plantar Fasciitis:

In the majority of cases, physical therapy alone will fix the issue and prevent problems in the future. In rare cases, there is a requirement to undergo surgery.

But this is extremely rare. The surgery is usually Plantar Fascia Release, where the procedure involves making tiny cuts in the fascia to reduce tension in the ligament, or Gastrocnemius recession, where the calf muscles are stretched to relieve the pressure on the Plantar Fascia ligament. 

How To Prevent Plantar Fasciitis 

running shoes with good support

It can be difficult if you have a pre-existing health condition that might contribute to your developing Plantar Fasciitis. But in most other cases, the most effective way to prevent Plantar Fasciitis from developing in the first place is to avoid “overuse” of the feet. But what does that mean in real terms?

Well, in simple terms, it means: 

  • Making sure that you wear the right type of footwear that takes some of the pressure off your hard-working feet
  • Trying not to walk on hard surfaces in bare feet
  • Giving yourself (and your feet) ample time to rest after performing any strenuous activity.
  • Taking the time and making the extra effort to practice warming up and cooling down exercises before and after workouts.
  • Replacing your footwear every nine months or so – especially if you use them excessively due to work/sports.

Contact us now for a free one-to-one screen to see how we can help you now

You shouldn't have to suffer with Plantar Fasciitis. 

Steve Miller

Steve Miller

Steve has been practicing Outpatient, Orthopedic Physical Therapy in the Central Pennsylvania region since 1994. His academic history includes undergraduate work at Central Pennsylvania College and Lock Haven University, graduate studies at the University of Findlay, and pedorthic certification from Temple University. By combining his education and years of experience, Steve has been able to provide individual physical therapy and pedorthic services to his patients for over 15 years. Steve has been to more that 20 continuing education courses during that span, with the focus being on orthopedics, pedorthic implementation, and foot/ankle injuries. He utilizes a combination of McKenzie, manual therapies, and functional exercise in the treatment of clients with all types orthopedic maladies.
Steve Miller

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