By Rob Blumberg, PT and Clinic Manager at ApexNetwork Physical Therapy in Freeburg, IL

Have you, or someone that you know, ever suffered heel pain which has adversely affected your mobility and daily activities? Plantar fasciitis is the most common foot condition treated by healthcare providers, and it is estimated that this pathology occurs in approximately 2 million Americans each year.1

The plantar fascia is a piece of connective tissue consisting of three bands. These bands attach at the heel bone (calcaneus) and span under the foot to anchor at the toes, specifically the metatarsal heads.1 There is also an anatomical connection between the plantar fascia and the Achilles tendon, thereby linking these two structures.

Plantar fasciitis is often diagnosed in patients with associated pain symptoms, including but not limited to: pain under the heel which is pronounced with weight-bearing activities (ex. walking, running, stairs), increased pain upon first walking in the morning or after a period of inactivity, and temporary relief of pain with increasing levels of activity.1 Individuals afflicted with plantar fasciitis will often indicate that there has been a recent change in their activity level, such as increased distance with walking or running, or an employment change that requires additional time standing or walking.1

Research has indicated several potential risk factors for developing plantar fasciitis. One such predictor is limited ankle dorsiflexion range of motion, which is the ability to raise your toes toward your shin. This motion engages a stretch in the calf muscles and the Achilles tendon. Additional risk factors include individuals who spend the majority of the workday on their feet and those with a high body-mass index (BMI), specifically over 30 kg/m2.1

Physical therapy intervention is highly effective at treating plantar fasciitis. Various treatment options with successful outcomes include iontophoresis, in which an anti-inflammatory medication is directed through the skin to decrease swelling, limit pain, and improve function. Additional treatment can include ultrasound application, stretching exercises, manual therapy techniques, taping procedures to correct gait or postural impairments, and controlled strengthening exercises.1

If you have any questions regarding plantar fasciitis or other foot injuries, please stop by or call your local ApexNetwork Physical Therapy clinic, or visit

1McPoil, Thomas G. et al. “Heel Pain – Plantar Fasciitis: Clinical Practice Guidelines Linked to the International Classification of Function, Disability, and Health from the Orthopaedic Section of the American Physical Therapy Association.” J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2008: 38 (4): A1-A18.


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