The Complexity of Plantar Heel Pain

Plantar heel pain is complex. Typically, the term, plantar heel pain, was used to mean the common term of plantar fasciitis. This was considered to be a mechanical strain of the plantar fascia which is a long ligament across the arch of the foot that is supposed to hold up the arch of the foot. Treatment was typically directed as reducing the strain in that long ligament. As more become known about the condition and the involvement of other structures and the mechanism of action of how different treatments actually helped and affected the pain pathways in plantar fasciitis it became clear just how complex this problem was. Hence the preference for the name of plantar heel pain rather than plantar fasciitis.

A recent episode of PodChatLive was devoted to that complexity. The expert on that episode was Matthew Cotchett who has published extensively within the field of plantar heel pain. In that episode they talked about that issue of the terminology. They also talked about the increasing importance of the associated psychological variables and how some of the non-mechanical treatments like dry needling actually might work. They also went over the best evidence based approach to treating heel pain in clinic on a daily basis. Dr Matthew Cotchett PhD is a Lecturer and researcher in the La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. He works in private practice as a podiatrist with an interest in the assessment and management of exercise-induced musculoskeletal disorders. Matthew has a particular interest in the management of pain beneath the heel and completed a PhD which evaluated the effectiveness of trigger point dry needling for plantar heel pain. Matthew’s main research interests are in the psychosocial aspects of musculoskeletal pain, with a particular focus on cognitive, affective and behavioural factors as drivers of pain and disability.