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Heel Pain

... Heel and Arch pain.

Heel/Arch pain is one of the most common foot ailments affecting millions of people on a daily basis. Unfortunately, this affliction is left untreated by a majority of the population, figuring that it will go away, or accepting that the pain is typical with excessive standing or walking. Eventually, this ailment becomes chronic in nature, often manifesting with “First step pain” when getting out of bed or after a period of rest, usually dissipating after a few minutes of walking, then eventually returning later in the day.

What causes this problem to arise? The number one reason is improper biomechanics of the feet along with an abnormal gait (walking) pattern, placing too much stress on the heel bone and the soft tissue that attaches to it. The medical term for this inflammatory response is “Plantar Fasciitis.” This condition occurs when the plantar fascia (a tendon attached to the heel bone) is strained over time beyond its normal extension, causing the soft tissue fibers of the fascia to tear or stretch at it’s attachment to the heel bone or along the arch, resulting in pain and inflammation. Eventually, this could lead to development of excess bone underneath the heel commonly known as a “Heel Spur.”

Those typically affected by this disorder are; Athletes, people with Flat Feet, over pronators, people who are overweight, weekend warriors, limb length discrepancy. Other causes include; improper shoe gear, a thin fat pad in the heel, a bursal sac or inflammed nerve over the heel bone, compensation of one limb over the other due to foot, ankle, knee, hip, or lower back pain. Regardless, this problem can present in people of all ages, including children who are diagnosed as having “Growing Pains” which is often not the case.

The good news is that 80-90% of Plantar Fasciitis sufferers can get relief with conservative treatment. High Tech Dynamic Computerized Foot Scanning is the latest trend for creating Custom Molded Orthotics (corrective shoe inserts formed in a Doctors office) and is generally the most effective form of treatment relieving stress on the plantar fascial band and improving the alignment between the feet and legs. Other types of conservative treatment are anti-inflammatory meds (advil, aleve), rest, ice, reflexology/massage, stretching & strengthening exercises, ultrasound therapy, electrical stimulation, cortisone injections, and boot or cast immobilization.

Until recently, the 10-20% that didn’t respond well to conservative therapy would have to undergo surgery to alleviate their heel/arch pain. But a new non-invasive form of treatment known as “Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy” is rapidly replacing corrective surgery. This 10-15 minute procedure emits shockwaves from a laser-type apparatus directly to the heel, stimulating the body to dramatically “Heal Itself”.

The key factor to heel/arch pain is to get treatment as soon as possible from your local Podiatrist before it becomes chronic. Why live with pain when you don’t have to!