Pain beneath the heel bone or along the arch of the foot is an extremely common and debilitating condition. In our modern society, with its unyielding artificial floors, occupational demands with long hours of standing, and shoes of poor 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, heel spurs, heel tumors, bursitis, gout, arthritis, diabetes, and strain due to standing or 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 with swelling around the ligament on the bottom of the heel. This inflammation may be due to any of the causes mentioned above, but the most common cause of this type of heel pain is faulty foot function, which causes a rubbing or stretching of the ligaments. This is referred to as plantar fasciitis or heel spur syndrome.
Treatment Of Heel Pain
If you should be bothered by any or all of the symptoms mentioned, the first step in treatment can be tried at home. Often, heel pain relief can be attained by:
- Padding the heel with a soft, foam-rubber material to reduce pain.
- Wearing supportive shoes with a thick rubber heel will also help reduce pain and stabilize the ligaments.
- Placing ice against the bottom of the heel to reduce swelling.
- Stretching the calf muscles to keep them loose and moving.
If these measures fail, it is time to consult your local podiatrist at A Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Center. A careful medical history, a complete clinical examination of your feet, and sometimes X-rays are used to determine the cause and what the best treatment plan will be.
Treatment of the heel-spur syndrome or plantar fasciitis is two-fold. First, the inflammation responsible for the discomfort needs to be reduced. 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 or topical anti-inflammatory medications often are helpful in reducing this inflammation. 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. The most effective means of doing this is with the use of a custom-fitted functional orthotic insert.
When the condition has existed for 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 fifteen minute procedure that allows you to immediately walk in your regular shoes after the procedure and has over a 70% success rate.
ASA Treatment Facilities
The physicians and staff of A Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Center 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, making every effort to assure you of maximum benefits with minimum out-of-pocket expenses.
Contact Us Today!
No matter the cause or severity of your heel pain, our foot and ankle specialists at A Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Center have treatment plans that can get you comfortable back on your feet in no time. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!