Physical therapy for plantar fasciitis usually includes a lot of stretching and strengthening exercises. It is very helpful to gain more flexibility in the calves and Achilles tendon areas. Loosening these up will alleviate some of the stress on the heel, which is linked to plantar fasciitis. Therapy also targets strengthening of the foot muscles and stretches of the plantar fascia itself.
These same exercises can also be performed at home. Quite a few of them are highlighted in videos here on this site. These are effective and easy to follow.
Physical therapy for plantar fasciitis may also include a method known as iontophoresis. This method uses a low voltage electrical current to enhance the topical application of a pain reducer and/or anti-inflammatory medication. The medication is often a variant of cortisone aimed at reducing inflammation. The therapist will have a machine with two electrodes, one of which has the medication. The therapist controls the electrical current to enhance the application of the medication to the affected area. A greater concentration of medication can be delivered in this way. A typical session will last from 10 to 15 minutes. Side effects of the treatment are pretty rare.
Ultrasound treatments have been utilized in recent years as physical therapy for plantar fasciitis. The theory is that high intensity ultrasound can help increase the elasticity of muscles and can relax them as well. Lower intensity ultrasound could help the healing process by increasing blood flow, without damaging the tissues. There are also claims that inflammation can be reduced by ultrasound treatments that clear out toxins and damaged cells, allowing increased blood flow. More recent studies, however, have shown that the benefits of ultrasound treatment for plantar fasciitis are limited at best.
Cortisone injections are used sometimes by sports doctors as a method of treating plantar fasciitis. However, there is a risk of rupture of the plantar fascia ligament as a result. (This occurs in around 10 percent of those treated). It is recommended to limit cortisone injections to no more than once per year. The aforementioned iontophoresis is a less risky way of getting a cortisone medication into the inflamed area.
Follow this link to watch some therapy videos.
–Image courtesy Advanced Medical/ Flickr.com