Heel pain? It’s probably plantar fasciitis
Pain in your feet is the pits, and heel pain is probably about the worst.
This is because when you stand, all your weight is concentrated in your heel, and when you take a step your poor beleaguered heel leads the way and bears the brunt.
For some reason, many people think they have to put up with heel pain. Rather than getting help they adjust their lifestyle and turn their activity level down.
What’s worse, many people leap (or hobble) straight to painful corticosteroid injections.
If this is you, or someone you know, stop right there!
You don’t have to put up with heel pain and, in most cases, invasive treatment is not the answer. What’s more, an experienced podiatrist can bring relief.
So what causes heel pain?
Heel pain is often referred to as plantar fasciitis – or inflammation of the plantar fascia, a strong band of tissue that runs along the arch of your foot from heel to ball.
The plantar fascia supports your foot in the same way a tension rope is used to support a bridge.
While there are many causes of heel pain, one of the most common is when the plantar fascia is stretched too far or put under repeated stress, its soft tissue fibres become inflamed and can swell and thicken.
While this can happen at any point along the ligament (with pain in the middle of your foot or up into your calves), it usually affects the sole of the foot where the plantar fascia attaches to the heel bone.
If left untreated plantar The tissue gets caught in a chronic stage of degeneration, in which tears are occurring but not healing properly, which causes a buildup of scar tissue, a weakening of the plantar fascia.
We find that heel pain is most often caused by repetitive pounding of the heel or overstretching of the arch due to:
- an injury
- a bruise from running or walking
- poor footwear
- excess weight and weight fluctuations, or
- abnormal foot structure.
Heel pain can also be the result of:
- bone marrow oedema (essentially inflammation within the bone)
- a stress fracture to the heel bone
- excessive rolling in of the feet
- bursitis (a small inflamed sack of fluid at the back of the heel)
- a trapped nerve, or
- heel spurs, although these are usually a symptom of the condition rather than the cause.
Who’s most at risk?
- Sportspeople and dancers
- Pregnant women
- Middle-aged men and women
- People who spend long hours on their feet
- People who are overweight
- Active children aged between 8 and 13
If you suffer from heel pain Western Sydney Podiatry’s Heel Pain Relief and Recovery Program can provide lasting help.
Here’s an example.
Colleen brought her mother to an appointment at our clinic. I noticed Colleen was really struggling to walk.
She told me she had terrible heel pain and was scheduled to have surgery to fix the problem.
At this point my internal podiatrist bells started ringing loud and clear, because surgery is not usually indicated or successful for the treatment of heel pain.
I urged Colleen to come in for a consult before she committed to surgery. She was reluctant at first because she’d already tried two other podiatrists without success.
Experience is the key to resolving heel pain
The thing is, not all podiatrists are experienced in the proper treatment of heel pain. Our team is.
- As a former consultant to the Royal Duntroon Military College, I’ve treated the heal pain of many, many, many overuse injuries.
- Our Principal Podiatrist, Dan, has a solid background in designing, manufacturing and prescribing orthotics for heel pain relief.
- Our Pedorthist, Sayed, is a recognised industry expert and highly skilled in recommending footwear for foot health.
- All our staff undertake extensive training and ongoing professional development which means you can have confidence in our expertise.
Cause and effect, relief and recovery
Happily, I was able to convince Colleen to come in. I gathered a full history of her complaint, assessed her foot function and undertook a biomechanical assessment.
The cause: Colleen’s heel pain started after back surgery. It was caused by weight gain, extended periods of bed rest and rehabilitation in poor footwear.
The effect: By the time I saw Colleen she could barely walk. She was 52 years old, but felt like she was 102. The pain was stopping her from doing the things she enjoyed. It also made it hard to look after her mother and to function at work.
The relief: We started Colleen on an exercise program to build endurance within the fascia, made adjustments to her footwear and started electro shockwave therapy.
The recovery: Colleen’s pain improved dramatically, so she cancelled her surgery. She’s back to walking her dog every day and, now that she can get about without pain, is going to book a holiday. She is understandably over the moon.
Colleen story is not unusual. Heel pain is very common and highly treatable.
Heel pain is frustrating and debilitating
Most people describe heel pain as a dull, achy, bruised feeling. Others experience a more acute pain – like standing on a sharp rock or a stabbing sensation.
It usually hits first thing in the morning, or when standing up after a period of rest. For most, the pain eases after a few steps, but for some, like Colleen, it persists.
How can we help?
As I outlined in Colleen’s story, when you come into Western Sydney Podiatry we gather a full history of your condition and go through a thorough assessment process.
We tailor a Heel Pain Relief and Recovery Program to your needs. We deal with the source of the problem and deliver a range of measures to support you and your feet.
Depending on the cause and severity of your condition, the Program will include a range of non-invasive treatment options, from massage and footwear recommendations, to orthoses and electro shockwave therapy.
The take home message?
You don’t have to put up with heel pain!
If you experiencing heel pain or other symptoms of inflammation, like redness, swelling or heat, make an appointment with Western Sydney Podiatry.
If you know someone struggling with this problem, send them a link to this blog or our website – we really can help.
And, until you have some treatment and get some strategies in place, avoid going barefoot and choose shoes that support your feet and have absorbent soles.
Also, stick to non-weight-bearing activities like cycling and swimming.
Want to know how Western Sydney Podiatry’s Heel Pain Relief and Recover Program can help you?