With summer upon us, many people will be switching out their covered shoes for some sandals and thongs. Without proper supportive footwear, many people begin to develop heel pain that may be caused by a painful condition called plantarfasciitis.
What is it?
Let’s break it down:
Plantar = sole
Fascia: connective tissue
Itis = inflammation
Put together plantarfasciitis is a painful condition that affects the sole of the foot due to inflammation of the plantar-fascia. The plantar fascia it a broad band of strong connective tissue that supports the arch of the foot.
The plantar fascia arises from the heel (calcaneus) and runs along the sole of the foot, attaching to the toes
Fun fact: the long plantar ligament is the longest ligament in the human body!
How does it happen?
The plantar fascia can become inflamed in a number of different ways, with most being mechanical. Some risk factors can include if your foot has a flat or high arch, or wearing flat shoes (e.g. non-supportive thongs), particularly if you are spending a lot of time standing or walking in these shoes. Other factors can include activities such dancing or running – especially if there is an increase in the frequency or intensity of the activity. Over time, this can lead to repetitive ‘microtrauma’ in the plantar fascia causing inflammation.
What are some key symptoms?
People with plantar fasciitis will typically feel pain taking the first few steps in the mornings or after sitting for a long period of time, and will gradually improve with movement. However, it may intensify towards the end of the day if continuing to walk or stand for a long time. The pain is typically located at the heel and can radiate into the sole of the foot. The pain is described as sharp
heel pain after (not during) exercise
How can Osteopathic Treatment help?
Osteopathy can be useful in helping to assess, treat and manage plantarfasciitis. In your appointment, our Osteopaths will assess your feet, how you walk (gait) and will include a holistic approach looking at the movement through the low-back, pelvis, hips and knees.
Treatment will include techniques to increase range of motion and decrease muscular tension in surrounding structures. Exercise rehabilitation will also be prescribed and may include ice, stretching of the calf and plantar fascia, rolling a ball over the medial arch of the foot and strengthening of the foot and other regions.
Conservative treatment and management of plantar fasciitis is the first step in getting on top of this condition. This includes rest, activity and lifestyle modifications (such as supportive footwear or weight-loss), manual therapy and exercise rehabilitation over a number of weeks. If pain persists, referral to a podiatrist may be advised for the assessment and prescription of orthotics. Referral to a GP may be required if conservative treatment is not getting results, and the GP may recommend a local cortisone injection. Imaging, such as ultrasound and MRI is not typically used unless further investigation is required into other potential foot pathology.
Blog by Laura Stuart