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01 Feb Plantarfasciopathy

Plantarfasciitis or Plantarfasciopathy (as it is now termed), is a common foot condition comprising of 15% of all adult foot complaints, affecting 10% of the population (Rome, 1997).

The Plantarfascia is a sheet of strong connective tissue linking the heel to the toes through the sole of the foot.

It functions to transmit forces through the foot, but also acts as an active sensory structure capable of modulating its composition, according to external demands.

Commonly the worst area of pain is on the inner heel – where the plantarfascia attaches to the bone. This is an area which must withstand large tensile forces, as well as bending, shearing and compression.

It used to be thought that inflammation was to blame for the pain, but more recent studies have shown that a degenerative process is the culprit. This can cause small bony spurs to form, which are commonly seen on X-ray in patients with chronic heel pain.

The condition is more commonly seen in people with weight bearing occupations, such as factory workers and nurses, as well as the sporting population. Being overweight, and over 50 years old, also increases the risk factors. A genetic predisposition may also play a part, as can abnormal foot biomechanics.

Various treatments can benefit this condition, although progress can be slow. In the more acute phases, taping, heel cushioning and acupuncture can be useful; but for more long term resolution of the problem, exercises to restore ankle and big toe mobility, calf muscle length and plantar fascial flexibility; and perhaps most importantly – rehabilitation to increase the plantarfascia’s capability to withstand load; are recommended by the research.

For more bespoke advice and treatment on this limiting condition, book in to see one of our expert Physiotherapists here at Halo on 01926 257255 

Blog compiled by Nicki Bradshaw, Senior Physiotherapist at Halo

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