If you have plantar fasciitis, you are likely all too familiar with the excruciating heel and foot pain it can cause. You might need to take ANTI-INFLAMMATORIES for the pain and inflammation, and even wear a brace or splint for a period of time. However, healing the condition ultimately requires you to stretch and exercise your foot. Physical therapy can be an extremely important part of this process.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a very common cause of pain in the heel. It occurs when the thick, flat ligament that connects your heel to your toes becomes inflamed. The pain is generally a sharp, stabbing pain that is worst when you first get up in the morning. It will likely decrease during the day, but can flare up after long periods of standing or sitting. Plantar fasciitis is most common in runners, those who wear unsupportive shoes, and those who are overweight.
Why Physical Therapy?
Plantar fasciitis can cause tightening of some foot muscles and weakening of others, as the foot tries to compensate for the inflammation. Over time, the pain and damage can worsen, making it difficult to use your foot normally. Physical therapy helps to gently stretch and strengthen the muscles and ligaments, realigning your foot and reducing the pain.
What to Expect from Physical Therapy
Your first appointment is dedicated to diagnosing your issue and planning a course of treatment. We will gather information about your heel pain, what activities make it feel better or worse, and any relevant past medical history. Then it is time for an individualized clinical assessment. Depending on what was revealed during our discussion, your assessment might include these or other parts:
- Gait assessment: This is simply a close examination of the way you walk. Small changes in your gait can help your physical therapist determine which muscles are compensating for the pain.
- Range of motion: Rather than simply relying on a visual assessment of your walk, your physical therapist might measure the range of motion you have in your foot and ankle.
- Manual examination: It is likely that your physical therapist will manually manipulate your foot and ankle to look for abnormalities and pain triggers.
- Strength testing: Strength testing determines how much weight your foot and ankle can bear. It can help show areas of weakness in the muscles that must be addressed.
Your physical therapist might perform other tests as well, depending on what information is required. When all of the testing is complete, your physical therapist will move on to specific treatment plan recommendations.
No two cases of plantar fasciitis are exactly the same, so it is impossible to predict exactly what your treatment plan will include. For example, some people need to wear custom devices known as orthotics inside a shoe to help stretch the foot and lift the heel, while others do not. In general, though, you should expect a great deal of hard work.
Your physical therapist will prescribe a series of exercises designed to strengthen and stretch your foot, and improve your range of motion. You will likely be expected to exercise at home as well. To get the most out of your physical therapy, it is important to maintain an open and engaged “can do” attitude, even if the therapy feels painful or inconvenient.
Founded by physical therapy innovator Dr. Joseph Simon, the Manhattan Physical Therapy and Pain Center is a leader in pain relief and injury recovery conveniently located in Midtown New York City. We offer several dedicated programs for different conditions, along with the latest innovations in physical therapy for all. If you are ready for the latest treatments for your pain or injury, we invite you to call us today at (212) 213-3480 to learn how we can help.