Here at ARS Hand & Physical Therapy, we understand that when it comes to deciding the best course of action for your musculoskeletal injury or condition, there are many options available. However, based on our own experience within the clinic and the evidence found in research studies, we firmly believe that physical and occupational therapy is the best possible choice you can make. To help you better understand the advantages of the treatments we provide, our physical and occupational therapists do our best to bring you examples of some of the most recent studies that highlight the many benefits of our services.
This month, we discuss the details of a recent study that evaluates how many patients with a common foot injury actually seek out the services of a physical therapist.
Physical therapy typically recommended for common foot injury
Plantar fasciitis is a very common foot injury that affects about one million people each year and roughly 10% of the population at some point in their lives. The injury involves the plantar fascia, which is a strong piece of tissue that normally absorbs shock and supports the arch of the foot. Patients with plantar fasciitis typically experience a stabbing pain in the bottom of the foot near the heel, which tends to be particularly bad upon taking the first few steps of the day.
Patients with plantar fasciitis should be treated with stretching and strengthening exercises, as well as bracing and a hands-on therapy called manual therapy, which is usually administered by a physical therapist. There is strong evidence that shows manual therapy and other physical therapy treatments are beneficial, but it’s not completely clear if patients are actually taking advantage of this type of care. For this reason, a study was performed to investigate how many patients with plantar fasciitis receive physical therapy and what types of treatment they are given.
To conduct the study, researchers used a large patient record database. This database provided details on 819,963 patients diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, who were billed for a total of 5,739,737 visits to a medical professional over four years. Additional data on these patients was then analyzed to determine what proportion sought out physical therapy services.
Of the more than 800,000 patients in the database, only 7.1% were actually evaluated by a physical therapist within 30 days of their plantar fasciitis diagnosis. Of the patients evaluated by a physical therapist, 87% received manual therapy and 89.5% received supervised rehabilitation as part of their treatment program. Further investigation showed that patients who were treated with manual therapy had shorter lengths of care and paid less overall for their care than those who did not.
These findings show that although physical therapy is strongly supported by evidence as a beneficial treatment for plantar fasciitis, the vast majority of patients with the injury do not seek out this type of care. There are several possible explanations for why this is the case, including lack of education, financial concerns and poor geographic location, all of which can limit patients’ access to physical therapy. This study highlights the need for better patient education that shows why physical therapy is usually the best possible intervention for plantar fasciitis, as well as wider access to these services. Patients with plantar fasciitis should also be encouraged to seek out care from a physical therapist, since it can lead to a quicker recovery at a lower cost, as seen in this study.
Patients with foot pain in Springfield from plantar fasciitis should come in for a visit
Here at ARS Hand & Physical Therapy in Springfield, NJ, we perform manual therapy techniques and a variety of other interventions to effectively manage patients with foot pain in Springfield from plantar fasciitis. If you’re currently dealing with this condition, we strongly urge you to not follow the lead of most patients in the study and instead come in to see us for an evaluation. Doing so will significantly reduce your pain and put you back in action as quickly and safely as possible. Contact us at 973-379-7006 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
To read the summary (abstract) of this featured study, click here.