When a patient complaints about painful shot on the foot, the medical expert usually suggest taking physical therapy. That is if the diagnosis leads to plantar fasciitis case. While some people consider this remedy as unhelpful step, there are so many logical as well as medical explanation for it.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
It is a medical condition when the patients are experiencing pain in heels area. The name Plantar Fasciitis is derived from the area where the soreness detected. It is the plantar fascia, the muscle that supports the arch. This thick band of tissue acts as the connectors for the heels to the ball of the foot. Several activities could trigger inflammation or even rip the tissue.
It might appear as an occasional sting when the patients walk, particularly the first step in the morning. At the first time, they might think that the condition is normal. Sadly, most patients think so because Plantar Fasciitis occur in 2 million Americans per year. This number is almost equal to 10% of human population in the world.
What Could Trigger Plantar Fasciitis?
Seeing the number of the patients affected by the sickness, there must be certain action that triggers the condition. Actually, the main cause of Plantar Fasciitis is old age. It can be seen from the range of patient’s age. Those who suffer from this condition are usually above 40 years old.
Another warning should be given to those who love weight-bearing activity, no matter as a job, sport, or part of hobby. Why so? It is because they tend to rely on the heels while picking up something heavy. The damage might not appear immediately, but it will be seen in the later years.
It turns out that the rapid increasing activity gives similar damage to heels as the regular weight- bearing routine. For instance, those who are signing into new running program and join the medium to high class for the first meeting. They are not giving any chance for the body to adapt. It also happens when somebody switches to a job that requires more walking or standing than the previous job.
Plantar Fasciitis might also occur when calf muscle starting to lose its flexibility. As the result, the muscle on foot area will slowly become stiff. People with obesity also share similar chance to get the muscle problem. If the patients ask, “how fat is fat?”, then the answer is when the Body Mass Index shows any number bigger than 30.
Besides all the muscle abuse done by the human, there is also one condition where certain defected body part affects the foot. It is the term called flat foot or pronation. The plantar fascia is normally curved, but the flat foot shape force the muscle to straighten. Thus, the pain developed.
Despite all the causes, it is good to remember that Plantar Fasciitis might affect both men and women. Even though athletes have higher chance, but non-athletes might also develop the condition.
What Are The Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
The patients’ body has actually sent certain signal to the brain about the pain. However, not many patients take the symptoms seriously. In the beginning, Plantar Fasciitis sign could be recognized as shooting pain underside the heel. When he patients run their fingers on the foot arch, the area might be either too tender or too tight.
The most painful time for Plantar Fasciitis patients is in the morning. It is when they get up from bed and put their first step to walk. Sadly, many people ignore this symptom because the torture slowly disappears as they continue their morning routine. Not many know that even stronger shooting pain will come in the end of the end of the day.
For some other people, the pain appears when they stand for a long period of time. Several professions that are connected to the activity is police, cashier, restaurant workers, etc. It might also happen when the patients stand up after sitting for hours or even a while. Switching feet position once a while during the sitting period could help preventing the pain.
After doing the weight-bearing activity such as running, the occurrence of plantar pain could be expected. If the routine is just the regular ones, the pain might not appear. However, the torture will pop up after intense workout. The extreme case might happen for those who rarely have physical activities. Even climbing stairs could develop the plantar pain!
Sometimes the pain is triggered by external factor such as pebbles or uneven land. Therefore, walking barefoot should be done in proper floor. If it is not possible, then take a support.
How to Do Physical Therapy For Plantar Fasciitis Patients?
Referring to the case database from 2007-2011, there is an unfortunate fact about Plantar Fasciitis patients. There is only around 7% of them who actually visit physical therapists. The rest of the patients prefer to take surgical steps. It is quite a shortcut, since there is a safer option to take before taking the surgical procedure. In fact, this physical therapy is suggested for at least six to nine months before opting the other ways.
One thing that makes the patients crumble when the doctor recommend them to take the physical therapy. Its main procedure is muscle stretching. How come further stretching could help with the pain when a single movement is already a torture? The key here is to perform the physical therapy on the right time. This is the importance of discussion with the therapists.
Take an example for one case. Many patients complain about the excruciating pain in the morning, when they take the first step out of the bed. For this condition, the stretching must be done on the bed. The caretaker should be present for this procedure, or the items prepared before bed time. Take a long towel to warm up plantar fascia muscle. It will cause passive dorsiflexion.
Remember to place both hands on both ends of the towel. Pull the towel from the middle part after placing it on the forefoot area. Similar stretches could be done at night before sleeping. Instead of lying on bed, the procedure must be practiced while standing. As the result, the achilles tendon will be in neutral condition.
There is one more option to relieve the morning pain. Leaving the option to use towel, the patients could take a can of soda or any other carbonated drink. Chilled can is far better than the room temperature can. The cold will give symptomatic relief thanks to the cooling on the local area. Even though there are the other options like static bracing and soleus stretching, nothing is better than plantar fascia stretching.
It has been proved by several medical researches that dorsiflex the joints and ankle at the same time would cut the tension on the calf. The steps of muscle stretching could be done during the day or during the active working hours. In this case, the pain at night would be reduced.
While the patients visit the therapists, there are several physical examinations that could be used as the daily exercise. Run the thumb or finger along with fascia muscle length and slowly massage it. The doctor usually performs this routine in front of the family and asks them to repeat the procedure correctly.
In addition to the morning routine, the patients should also do cooling treatment after concluding the daily routine. It will help reducing the pain and inflammation on the muscle. Use a pack of ice and put it on the fascia part. The patients could also take the pack to perform simple massage. Do this cooling routine for approximately 15 to 20 minutes per day.
When Plantar Fasciitis happen to athletes, there are several quick treatment by the trainers or therapists. The foot muscle will be tapped, helping to release stress on the body part. Tapping will distract brain from the irritation in fascia part caused by weight bearing activity. After the simple stimulation, the patients should be able to perform the activity better.
Sometimes, the only way to relieve the pain in plantar fascia area is reducing the muscle work. The therapists might stop the patients from doing any activities that strain muscle too much. As the replacement, they could take the other workouts to maintain overall body health. For example, there are swimming, water aerobics, or aquatic walk.
What Are The Benefits Of Physical Therapy?
For some patients who still doubt the function of physical therapy for plantar fasciitis, it is an unfortunate. The patients, in particular would get the slow paced medication. The procedure tries to fix the muscle through simple stretching. Besides addressing the problem on its spot, there is plenty more benefits from the routine.
The first advantage for the patients is having wider range of movement. Those who haven’t experienced the pain won’t understand how the condition limits the activity. A tiny straining to the muscle will trigger shooting pain signal to the nerve. Therefore, a chance to move freely would be beneficial to the patients.
Even in their initial therapy, there is significant difference. With this said, physical therapy are also helping with the recovery. In order to get full recovery, the physical therapy for plantar fasciitis should be practiced regularly. There is no need to rush the process. Following the pace of the muscle is better than forcing it to its limit.
Several doctors or stubborn patients might prefer to have oral medication instead of the physical therapy. It takes no routine and expected to give instant result. The prescribed drug is called opioids. Even though this medication is legal, it may cause long term side effects. Some of them are depression, overdose, and addiction. The patients might also have the other symptoms after stopping the drug intake.
There is no official record or research mentioning that having surgery is more effective than doing the physical therapy. It is only treat the painful muscle in short time, without any better performance compared to the scheduled exercise. The only thumb down of a surgery is the high price. Even when the physical therapy doesn’t work as expected, there are plenty options available, placing surgery as the last option.
How to Prevent Plantar Fasciitis?
There should be a red line for the general patient potential of Plantar Fasciitis and the unwillingness of people to feel the pain on their feet. It is by preventing the sickness by any means. In the other hand, the cause must be avoided.
Since the plantar fascia muscle is located on the feet, people must pay attention to the shoes. Make sure that the pair of shoes have good arch support. It is important to reduce the pressure to the plantar muscle. In addition, every three months the people should change their shoes. Those who have intense activities might buy new pair sooner than expected.
As mentioned above, there are several profession who have higher risk to get affected with Plantar Fasciitis. In short, it is those who need to stand almost all day. In this case, these persons should have thick mat between the feet and the floor. For the athletes, one simple habit that will help them is starting the exercise with light warming up. Gradually, increase the intensity and burn more energy.
For example, doing simple calf stretching before running and walking is important. It helps the calf muscle as well as the plantar fascia relaxes. It also prepares the muscle for more intense movement. The final way to prevent painful sore muscle feet is to maintain the weight. As long the body mass index is under 30, plantar fasciitis is far from sight.
Nobody likes pain, especially the one on the foot. The electrifying torment doesn’t come only when stepping and walking, but also when doing simple stretches. Hoping the torture disappear after a few days won’t do much. The patients should do something to relieve the pain. Physical therapy might sound ridiculous, but it could help.