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Symptoms and Possible Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis

A large percentage of the population will suffer from some form of foot or ankle pain as a result of trauma, sports injury, or everyday activities.  Due to the complexity of the foot and ankle, many structures can become injured or damaged and contribute to pain at rest or with activity.  Plantar fasciitis, specifically, is only one form of foot and ankle pain and presents with typical signs/symptoms.  Pain is typically present on the bottom surface of the foot at the heel and/or arch areas.  Onset of this pain is most often gradual and progressively worsens over time and activity.  The condition involves inflammation and/or deterioration of the plantar fascia, a structure that works to support the bottom of the foot and maintain the arch.  Tightness of this structure or poor or altered foot mechanics can lead to irritation of this tissue.  Pain is often most significant with the first step in the morning or after a period of inactivity.  However, with continued walking or activity, pain is often reduced and may even subside.  Patient’s can literally “walk off” the pain.  Symptoms are more easily managed in the early stages of the condition, before considerable breakdown of this tissue takes place.

Foot and ankle pain can also be the result of tendonitis (inflammation of a tendon), muscular strain, ligament sprain, stress fractures in the athlete and even nerve compression disorders.  Significant signs and symptoms include location of pain, onset and cause, bruising, swelling, color, temperature, ability to bear weight, and the presence of pins/needles or numbness.  Other areas or pain are not always insignificant, take note of low back pain and other areas of pain throughout the involved leg.  

Conservative management can be helpful in alleviating this pain, depending on the root cause, through gentle stretching, normalization of range of motion and tissue tension, normalization of foot mechanics, as well as strengthening.  In some cases the use of bracing or taping methods may be helpful, while in more severe cases, injections or even surgery may be indicated.  

Being aware of your symptoms and seeking early management will greatly reduce rehabilitation and recovery time, prevent further pain, deterioration, and loss of function.  Proper diagnosis and treatment by a healthcare professional is always necessary for successful management of this condition.  

Stephen DiGiambattista is a Physical Therapist with North Pocono ProCare Physical Therapy in Moscow.  If there are questions, concerns, or you have ideas for future articles, please feel free to contact Stephen at steved@procare-pt.com

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