The planter fascia (Figure 1) is a thick band of connective tissue which starts from the heel bone and extends along the foot to the 5 toes. The planter fascia has a number of roles, the most important of which is to support the arch of the foot. Planter Fasciitis was once thought to be an inflammation of the planter fascia, however now it is thought to be more of a degenerative process of the collagen structure which makes up the fascia.
Planter Fasciitis can often occur in people who have worked a long distance in an unsupportive shoe or barefoot. One of the risk factors for planter fasciitis are people who overpronate or who have flat feet. In young people there are some fascial connections between the Achilles tendon and the planter fascia, therefore a tight calf muscle can also be a risk factor for the development of Planter Fasciitis
Signs and Symptoms of Planter Fasciitis
Pain is the main symptom of planter fasciitis and can be felt anywhere along the line of the planter fascia. The most common place tends to be the in the heel. Planter fasciitis sufferers tend to feel the worst pain first thing in the morning as they put their foot down after a nights rest. Pain is also felt after standing when sitting for a long period of time. Palpation of the planter fascia can be very painful.
How can physiotherapy help?
Physiotherapy can help cure Planter Fasciitis. Soft tissue massage, stretching exercises, ultrasound and acupuncture are some techniques physiotherapists use to treat Planter Fasciitis. As soon as the condition in identified, it is very important for the patient wear good supportive shoes and to avoid walking around in slippers or barefoot. Often orthotics are given to patients to help correct their overpronation.
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