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Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is very common and a nagging problem for many. Two million people a year suffer from plantar fasciitis. By definition, it is inflammation of the plantar fascia – a thick band of fibrous tissue on the bottom of the foot. It runs from your toes to your heel and helps form the arch of your foot. By nature, it does not get a lot of circulation, creating a problem area for many runners, hikers and people who stand and walk a lot.  

Symptoms that are commonly experienced are heel pain, pain returning after prolonged standing and pain after activities. Generally, pain is worse in the morning due to the lack of circulation and the inflammatory process that affects the tissue overnight. Some people find that pain lessens with activity, due to increased circulation to the affected tissue. 

Some causes of plantar fasciitis are excessive running, walking, jumping or any repetitive stress where the tissue gets overloaded. These forces cause microtrauma to the tissue. Foot mechanics can also be a prime contributing factor if you over pronate, have flat feet or if you have high arches. These different foot types can stress the fibrous band on the bottom of the foot more so and cause chronic irritation to the tissue with each step you take. Wearing the proper shoes for your type of foot is crucial for supporting the plantar fascia and diminishing pain. 

Treatment for plantar fasciitis includes rest or modifying your activity, ice and/or anti-inflammatory medication and sometimes night splints. In Barton Health’s Specialty Rehabilitation Services department, we assess the issues causing plantar fasciitis. In most cases, the tissue is tight, necessitating tissue and/or joint mobilization. We [physical therapists] instruct patients on stretches that will allow for more pliability in the muscles and can increase circulation to the tissue through use of ultrasound. When someone has a biomechanical problem, we can mitigate their deviation with orthotics, taping and recommendations for proper footwear. There are specific exercises provided that can help strengthen the surrounding muscles of the foot and lower leg to increase the dynamic stability of the foot, allowing return to activity. 

Tips for plantar fasciitis
Take home tips that are very helpful to alleviate pain are:
- Never walk barefoot when you have plantar fasciitis, especially your first step out of bed in the morning. This can overstretch tight tissue and continue to irritate it. 
- Rolling the bottom of your foot over a frozen water bottle for five-minutes can help mobilize tight tissue as well as decrease inflammation. 

Plantar fasciitis can be a chronic and lingering ailment if not addressed in the acute stages. Therefore, early consultation with your health care provider and being proactive are vital to your well-being and recovery.
Barton Specialty Rehabilitation Services can be reached at 530.543.5720.