Pain beneath the heel bone is an extremely common and debilitating condition. In our modern society, with its unyielding artificial floors, occupations demanding long hours of standing, and shoes of ill-design, it’s no wonder that heel pain is one of the most common foot complaints.
There are many causes of heel pain including trauma, plantar fasciitis, heel tumors, stress fractures, bursitis, gout, arthritis, diabetes and strain due to standing and walking improperly.
People with heel pain usually complain of a “stone bruise.” The most frequent symptom is that of “pain in the morning with the first few steps.” This is due to inflammation around the ligament on the bottom of the heel. The most common cause of this type of heel pain is faulty foot function, which causes a rubbing or stretching of the ligament. This is referred to as “plantar fasciitis” or “heel spur syndrome.”
If you should be bothered by any or all of the symptoms mentioned, the first step in treatment can be tried at home. Often, relief can be attained by :
- Padding the heel with a soft, foam-rubber material.
- Wearing supportive shoes with a thick rubber heel.
- Placing ice against the bottom of the heel to reduce swelling.
- Stretching the calf muscles.
If these measures fail, it is time to consult your podiatrist. A careful medical history, a complete clinical examination of your feet, and sometimes x-rays are used to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.
Treatment of the “heel-spur syndrome”–or plantar fasciitis is two-fold. First, the inflammation responsible for the discomfort needs to be reduced, and secondly, the abnormal motion of the foot needs to be controlled. Reduction of the inflammation can sometimes be accomplished simply by reducing the amount of motion. This can be achieved temporarily with taping or strapping the feet.
If symptoms resolve fairly quickly, then many times no further treatment is needed unless there is another flare-up. Oral anti-inflammatory medications often are helpful in reducing this inflammation and occasionally an injection of local anesthesia and cortisone into the inflamed area is needed to calm it down.
Controlling the abnormal motion is the key to preventing recurrence of this syndrome, and the most effective means of doing this is with the use of a custom-fitted orthotic device.
When the condition has existed so long that these methods of treatment fail to resolve the symptoms, surgical treatment is sometimes necessary to afford permanent relief. Fortunately on October 12, 2000, the US Food & Drug Administration granted approval to market the OssaTron, a new device that uses shock waves to treat chronic heel pain. This is a 15 minute procedure that allows you to immediately walk in your regular shoes after the procedure and has over a 70% success rate.
Can a podiatrist help your heel pain? We make it easy for you to find out. Here’s how…
ASA Treatment Facilities
The physicians and staff of the A Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Centers maintain two complete podiatric clinical facilities and provide 24-hour emergency service. We participate in most health plans including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Medicare, and Medicaid. We complete and file all necessary insurance forms and make every effort to assure you of maximum benefits with minimum out-of-pocket expense.