Physiotherapists appeared to follow most of the established diagnostic criteria for PF, but have not followed established outcome measure guidelines. Advice and education with an emphasis on self-management including calf/hamstring stretching was the most commonly reported treatment approach. There is uncertainty whether this approach accurately reflects clinical practice used throughout the UK, due to potential response bias/unknown response rate and the low number of patients with PF treated by the respondents.
285 physiotherapists responded, with 257 complete survey responses. Pain on palpation and early morning pain were the most common diagnostic criteria, with some physiotherapists using no formal test criteria. Advice (237/257,92%), plantar fasciitis pathology education (207/257,81%) and general stretching exercises (189/257, 74%) were most routinely used. Prefabricated orthotics, custom made orthotics and night splints were seldom used. For the manual therapy approach, the most frequently used modalities were massage, myofascial release, specific soft tissue mobilisations and myofascial trigger point therapy. Commonly used outcome measures were pain assessment, functional tests and range of movement.
Physiotherapists were approached via ́interactive Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP)́ online networks and an email database of clinical educators in South West England. An online questionnaire was developed by reviewing similar existing physiotherapy surveys and consultation with experienced musculoskeletal researchers/clinicians. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse the data.