What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the thick banded tissue (termed plantar fascia) located on the bottom, or plantar aspect, of the foot. Inflammation of the plantar fascia is one of the most common causes of heel pain, as it originates at the base of the calcaneus.
What is the purpose of the Plantar Fascia?
The plantar fascia is like an elastic bowstring supporting the arch of the foot as well as covering the soft tissue structures deep within. Important roles of the plantar fascia include absorbing and distributing forces evenly with impact via support provided and elastic properties. The plantar fascia also acts in generating force appropriately through what is called The Windlass Mechanism. The Windlass Mechanism is the “tightening” of the plantar fascia as the great toe extends and the foot pushes off to propel one forward with walking. Without this action, the arch of the foot would collapse and stress would be greater to the underlying structures.
How does Plantar Fasciitis effect function?
Plantar Fasciitis involves inflammation and microtrauma to this thick fascia band. As a result of the inflammation, microtrauma and cellular changes taking place, tightness develops. One will notice pain greatest with stretch of the structure, which occurs with weightbearing and typically is greatest first thing in the morning or following prolonged immobility. As the condition becomes more severe and is left untreated, pain will progressively increase and limit function making basic activities like standing and walking for prolonged periods a challenge.
How do I know if I suffer from Plantar Fasciitis?
If you suspect you may have Plantar Fasciitis and are experiencing pain with activity as described above, we recommend making an appointment with our Doctor of Physical Therapy or Sports Medicine Physician for an evaluation. Diagnosing is easily done with hands on testing to distinguish between the various structures that could be contributing to your symptoms, as well as using diagnostic tools such as MRI or ultrasound to visualize the structures.
How is Plantar Fasciitis treated?
Treatment of the condition requires addressing the root of the problem, which is different from individual to individual based on the foot’s anatomical structure and physiology. By addressing the cause and prescribing appropriate stretches and exercises we not only resolve the current symptoms but also prevent frequent reoccurrence by addressing the root cause. Depending on the severity of the condition, splinting, custom orthotics and/or injection may be recommended to facilitate proper healing and recovery to return to optimal function.
Call Ross Medical Group Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy department at 305-279-7677 to schedule an appointment with one of our providers today.
Author: Heath Bailey DPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy