Plantar Fasciitis: Will Physical Therapy Help My Foot Pain?

One out of 10 people in the United States experience persistent pain along the bottom of the foot, a condition known as plantar fasciitis. In this country alone, outpatient clinics receive more than 1 million visits a year from people seeking help for this type of foot pain. In 2014, the Orthopaedic Section of the American Physical Therapy Association published updated clinical practice guidelines on the best treatments for patients with plantar fasciitis. The guidelines present evidence that strongly suggests a combination of manual therapy and rehabilitative exercises to help patients with this foot condition. In a more recent study published in the February 2017 issue of JOSPT, researchers reviewed the records of people with plantar fasciitis who were sent to physical therapy to determine whether this treatment lessened their pain.

NEW INSIGHTS

The researchers studied a database of 819,963 patients diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. Only 7.1% of these patients were prescribed physical therapy. Overall, patients sent to physical therapy received evidence-based treatment. These patients were given manual therapy 87% of the time and supervised rehabilitative exercises 90% of the time. The researchers found that patients who received manual therapy as part of their treatment averaged fewer visits and had a lower cost of care of $340. These results support prior studies that show faster recovery time for those who receive evidence-based physical therapy for their foot pain.

PRACTICAL ADVICE

This study shows that despite strong evidence on the benefits of physical therapy for plantar fasciitis, very few patients were given this treatment. If you have foot pain, evidence suggests that physical therapy will help you recover faster and cost you less than if you do not receive this treatment. This study also indicates that physical therapists are quickly adopting the recommendations in the updated clinical practice guidelines on plantar fasciitis. Therapists’ use of manual therapy increased from 78% in 2007 to 94% by 2011, while their use of supervised rehabilitative exercises increased from 85% to 91% during this same period. If you have been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, physical therapy offers evidence-based treatment options to help you recover from your pain. For this and more topics, visit JOSPT Perspectives for Patients online at www.jospt.org.

EXERCISES AND MANUAL THERAPY TO LESSEN FOOT PAIN. Your physical therapist may offer a combination of manual therapy and exercises, which have been shown to reduce your pain. These treatment options include calf stretches (A), foot stretches (B), and hands-on therapy (C). For calf stretches, while standing with your foot straight ahead, lean forward and keep your heel on the floor until you feel a stretch sensation in your calf. Perform this stretch first with the back leg straight and then repeat it with the back knee bent. For foot stretches, while seated, grab the base of your toes and pull them toward your shin. Your physical therapist can add manual therapy to your treatment, such as the ankle mobilization shown here.
This JOSPT Perspectives for Patients is based on an article by Fraser et al, titled “Utilization of Physical Therapy Intervention Among Patients With Plantar Fasciitis in the United States” (J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2017;47(2):49-55.doi:10.2519/jospt.2017.6999). This Perspectives article was written by a team of JOSPT’s editorial board and staff. Deydre S. Teyhen, PT, PhD, Editor, and Jeanne Robertson, Illustrator.

  • Hits: 1991
  • Angelo Zuppa is the best physical therapist ever! He is hands on, caring, obviously has a passion for what he does, and is truly someone who wants to make you better!
  • Dr. Zuppa is a miracle worker! His “hands-on” approach has helped me to regain flexibility and movement that I have not enjoyed since my early years! (I’m nearly 60). Thanks to Dr. Zuppa I have been able to return to my exercise regimen of cardio and weight training after years of neglect! Thank you Dr. Zuppa!
  • After months of pain and multiple doctor visits, one physician suggested physical therapy and with a recommendation from a friend, I began seeing Dr. Caitlin Carpenter. During my first visit, I was impressed by her professionalism and bedside manner. She not only treated the target area, but pinpointed the root cause for the pain and has subsequently began treating those areas. Her hands-on, holistic approach has completely improved by life and I have been pain free under her care for the first time in months!
  • There are many good physical therapists and then there is Angelo "The Healer". He is amazing! His knowledge and approach has helped myself and many friend. My body thanks him everyday.
  • I have seen Dr. Zuppa for a number of issues, including joint replacement therapy. His competent, confident, sociable manner help put you at ease during your therapeutic sessions. He spends a lot of time with you, as he doesn’t rely on machines; he’s really “hands-on”. He’s kind, compassionate, and really listens to you to determine your problem and then fully explains how his course of action will help you. I have referred several friends and family members to Angelo and all have given him rave reviews. He’s extremely competent and I recommend anyone seeking physical therapy to see Angelo. You won’t be disappointed.

Copyright © Zuppa Physical Therapy. All Rights Reserved.

Website Design and Hosting provided by Flight Creative Group.