Who am I?
First, I’d like to introduce myself – I’m Mike Leitza. I’m a Licensed Physical Therapist with 20 years of experience treating outpatient orthopedics (injuries to muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones). I had the idea to start a blog to provide you with some helpful information about common injuries we see on a regular basis in the office. This may include basic information about the soft tissues (e.g. tendons, muscles, ligaments), bones involved with injuries, possible ways you can help yourself at home prior to seeking professional medical advice (e.g. appointment with physician or physical therapist), and advice on when and why it would be beneficial to seek medical attention.
Today’s topic – plantar fasciitis!
Do you dread getting out of bed in the morning or standing up after extended sitting due to severe pain on the bottom of your foot? Do you have pain on the bottom of your foot at the end of the day or after prolonged standing, walking, or exercising? If so, you may have plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia tissue at the bottom of your foot. The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs from your heel to your toes and helps support your arch (see image below). There are a number of things that can contribute to plantar fasciitis, such as:
- Obesity: significant weight placed on the foot can put increased pressure on the tissues
- Foot mechanics: having flat feet (pes planus) or high arches (pes cavus) can put excessive stress on the tissues
- Certain types of exercises: prolonged running, plyometric jumping activity, and high level aerobic activity
- Occupations: jobs that keep you on your feet for a prolonged amount of time; especially on hard surfaces, such as concrete floors
- Musculoskeletal dysfunction: tightness and/or weakness in the muscles, tendons, ligaments of your leg
Basic “at-home treatments” can be used prior to seeking medical attention, including the R.I.C.E. principle (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). An efficient way to do this is to freeze a bottle of water and use it to ice and massage the bottom of the foot at the same time (see image below). A common problem that most patients have is tight calf muscles. Doing a simple stretch of the calf muscle can help to relieve some of the abnormal stress on this area. This stretch can be done in bed in the morning to help relieve the pain (see picture below). Try holding this for 30 seconds and repeat 2-3 repetitions. A third simple at home remedy would be to do an exercise that works on strengthening your arch. Take a towel and place it on the floor (wood, vinyl, tile floors work best). Then with your shoes off put your foot on the towel and use your toes to try and bunch up the towel. You can do this for about a minute at a time.
If you have tried these at home remedies for more than a week and the symptoms persist or worsen, you may want to seek help from a physical therapist. A physical therapist has a number of tools to assist with healing and decreasing pain. Some of these treatments may include soft tissue mobilizations to help improve healing and scar tissue formation, manual therapy techniques to improve ROM (range of motion), kinesiotaping methods to support arch, and specific strengthening exercises for the hip/knee/ankle depending upon what is weak. Believe it or not, doing some hip strengthening exercises can help decrease abnormal stress on your feet and ankles, Physical therapists can help provide orthotics, which can help to decrease stress and strain on the tissues involved. Therapists may be able to order them for you or recommend someone to make them for you, such as a podiatrist, pedorthist, or simply suggest a trial over–the-counter orthotic.
Visiting a local Physical Therapist may be easier than you imagined. Many states currently have “direct access”, which means you can visit a physical therapist without a doctor referral (please check with your local physical therapy office). Even with direct access, you may still need a referral from a doctor for insurance purposes. Your local physical therapy office should be able to help you with any questions about specific insurance benefits. If you do not have direct access to physical therapy in your state, you will likely need to have a referral from a physician (family MD, podiatrist, orthopedic surgeon etc.)
I would be happy to answer any questions that you have about plantar fasciitis, insurance, or other physical therapy needs – feel free to email or call our office
Stay tuned . . .
Good luck and I hope this helps with your foot pain! Stay tuned for future topics and blogs. Do you have a concern or idea for a future blog topic? Send us an email or call our office and let us know!
You can reach Mike at Sports Physical Therapists of Fox Lake, 145 Sayton Road Fox Lake, IL 60020, by phone at 847-629-5536, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org