Diagnosis and Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis Heel Pain

Diagnosis and Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis Heel Pain Blog

Whether you are a seasoned athlete accustomed to aches and pains, a teacher who stands on your feet all day, or anyone else who spends long hours standing, walking or running, heel pain can slow you down and distract you from your daily responsibilities.

Occasionally heel pain is the result of an acute injury, but more often than not, heel pain is associated with plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the thick band of ligament that runs along the bottom of your foot, connecting your heel bone to your toes. The plantar fascia ligament supports the arch of you foot and acts as a shock absorber, helping you to walk, run and jump.

Causes of Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is typically a repetitive use injury caused by micro tears to the fascia of the ligament, particularly where it attaches at the heel. When subjected to repetitive forces on a regular basis, the plantar fascia may become inflamed, causing heel pain and stiffness. While pain initially manifests at the heel, if left untreated, plantar fasciitis may affect the entire bottom of your foot.

Things that may contribute to plantar fasciitis include:

  • Worn or unsupportive footwear
  • Repetitive running or jumping with inadequate recovery time
  • Long spells of standing on concrete or other unforgiving surfaces
  • Tight Achilles tendons
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Unusually high arches or flat feet

Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis

Heel pain is the primary symptom of plantar fasciitis. It may worsen gradually over time, or you may notice it suddenly, without warning.

Other symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:

  • sharp or burning pain on the sole of your foot, often near the heel
  • intense throbbing foot pain first thing in the morning or after prolonged periods of sitting
  • pain that diminishes when your muscles are warm and active, but returns later in the day
  • sudden sharp heel pain that builds gradually
  • foot pain lasting for several days, or experienced periodically over the course of months
  • pain mostly in just one foot
  • swelling, redness and heat in the heel area
  • limping and compensating for the painful foot

In some cases, pain may come and go sporadically before developing into full blown plantar fasciitis.

Diagnosing Plantar Fasciitis

Your therapist or healthcare provider will likely conduct a clinical exam to determine if you foot pain stems from plantar fasciitis. They will review your medical history, ask questions about the onset of pain and your daily activities, and check for tenderness in the painful area to rule out a different foot problem. They will also look for signs of inflammation like redness and swelling.

You may be asked to flex your foot and point your toes while they press on the plantar fascia to see if the pain worsens or is relieved.

The therapist may also assess:

  • muscle strength
  • joint range of motion
  • reflexes
  • coordination
  • balance

Ultrasonography may be performed to rule out a bone fracture or other structural problem. Video gait analysis may be performed to identify mechanical deficiencies that contribute to plantar fasciitis.

Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis

Treatment for plantar fasciitis is often multi-modal. While some clinicians may prescribe orthotics, steroid injections or even surgery, those strategies are often aimed at alleviating pain without correcting the underlying cause.

Effective treatment strategies for plantar fasciitis include:

  • Rest and abstaining from activities that aggravate the injury
  • Icing to reduce inflammation
  • Athletic taping for protection and pain relief
  • Physical therapy
  • ESWT (extracorporeal shock wave therapy) to relieve pain and inflammation and promote healing

Treatment should be individualized, taking into consideration your foot anatomy, daily activities and performance needs.

Plantar Fasciitis Treatment in NYC

The foot pain specialists at NYDNRehab are skilled and experienced at diagnosing and treating plantar fasciitis. Our team of specialists uses cutting edge technologies and innovative treatment strategies to help our patients restore healthy function.

At NYDNRehab, we do not just treat your symptoms, we identify the cause of your pain and use corrective strategies to heal it. Call for a consultation for your heel pain today, and see why NYDNRehab offers the very best physical therapy in NYC.


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