Barrie Foot Clinic
Plantar Fasciitis is a common overuse injury. It is characterized by acute heel pain first thing in the morning or after rest. The plantar fascia is a thick non-elastic band of fibrous tissue that runs from all five metatarsal heads and attaches onto the calcaneous (heel bone). Its main function is to maintain the medical longitudinal arch of the foot.
The problem begins when there is stress applied to the plantar fascia and the fascia pulls away from its weakest insertion, causing microtears. This causes inflammation and thus, pain. A plantar fascial microtear can also occur at mid sole or towards the toes. Since it is difficult to rest the foot, the situation is aggravated with every step taken. The problem progresses rapidly and treatment must be started as soon as possible. As the fascia is pulled away from the bone, the body reacts by filling in the space with new bone. This causes the classic "heel spur". This heel spur is a secondary x-ray finding and is not the problem, but a result of the problem.
- Flat pronated feet
- High arched rigid feet
- Inappropriate / improper shoes
- Increasing age
Rest is the first and most important part of the treatment. Your feet carry your body weight and with every step the injury gets aggravated. Weight bearing activities should temporarily be replaced with swimming or cycling.
Shoes are an important element to the recovery of foot injuries. Supportive athletic shoes, preferably walking shoes, with extra heel cushioning, rigid heel counters and lace up mechanisms provide the support and balance necessary to assist in healing injured feet.
TIP: Shoes should be worn at all times, yes, in your home as well.
Orthotics are plastic devices prescribed by your chiropodist. The orthotics serve to realign your feet and prevent any abnormal compensations due to biomechanical abnormalities. These abnormalities, if left untreated causes "flat feet" or "fallen arches" which result in the pulling of the plantar fascia.
Should Symptoms Persist Conjunctive Therapy Can Be Introduced...
Plantar Fasciitis Night Splints
These splints are designed to keep the plantar fasciia in an elongated position overnight, therefore reducing the initial stretch that occurs when you take your first morning step.
Laser Therapy is a good treatment option. Photochemical responses in the tissue helps to control pain and accelerate healing.
Shockwave is an intense but very short acoustic energy wave. It introduces a micro trauma to an area of pain to stimulate certain components within the body to heal itself. This can even be accomplished in cases of chronic pain, when the body has demonstrated a previous unwillingness to heal.
Ultrasound is a method of stimulating the tissue beneath the skin’s surface using very high frequency sound waves creating a thermal effect. This creates a deep heating to the tendons, muscles and ligaments which increases circulation and healing. Increasing tissue temperature with ultrasound is also used to decrease pain.
Hot and Cold Therapy
Inflammation is reduced by placing the inflamed heel in hot water (or heating pad) for 2-5 minutes, then in cold water (or ice packs) for 2-5 minutes. This alternating should continue for a total of ten times per session and done several times throughout the day.
A cortisone injection is usually beneficial if the above therapies have not solved the problem. It is a local injection and it is very safe in this area.
The initial objective of physiotherapy is to decrease the inflammation. Later, the small muscles of the foot will be strengthened to support the weakened plantar fasciitis.
Short Term Relief May Include...
A heel pad made of felt, sponge or silopos can help to absorb the shock as the heel lands and ease the pressure on the plantar fascia. These heel pads are either pre-cut or have softer material centrally, to deflect pressure away from the painful area. Heel pads and heel cups are available at most pharmacies or in your chiropodist's office.
Taping your foot to maintain the arch will take some of the tension off the plantar fascia. This will provide short term relief in acute cases.
Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory pills. These can play an important role in reducing the inflammation in your foot, however this is not a long term answer.
Surgery is rarely required for plantar fasciitis.
The following exercises are designed to strengthen the small muscles of the foot to help support the damaged area. If performed regularly, they will help prevent re-injury.
A – Towel Curls
Place a towel on a floor. Curl the towel toward you, using only the toes of your injured foot. Resistance can be increased with a weight on the end of the towel. Repeat 20 times
B – Shine Curls
Run your foot slowly up and down the shin of your other leg as you try to grab the shin with your toes. Repeat 30 times. A similar exercise can be done curling your toes around a tin can.
C – Toe Grabs
Stand feet together. Rotate your knees outward while attempting to grab the floor with your toes using the muscles of your foot. Hold 10 seconds, and then relax. Repeat 20 times.
D – Tennis Ball Roll
Using a tennis ball, roll your foot back and forth over your arch and heel area for 2 minutes.