More specifically, have you picked out your New Year’s Resolutions?
If you haven’t yet, here’s one resolution we highly recommend to our patients—make it your goal for this to be the year of no more heel pain.
Sound ridiculous? For those who have suffered from chronic heel pain for months, if not on-and-off pain for years, this might seem like a pie-in-the-sky dream at best. And, true, we’re not saying you’ll have all your pain gone for good by January 1.
But heel pain is not normal. Nor is it inevitable. And with proper treatment followed by smart (and not especially difficult!) preventative measures, you have a great chance of getting your feet back in top shape—and keeping them that way.
Let’s get to the game plan.
Step 1: Dealing with the Acute Symptoms
Heel pain can be a very complex problem—much more than most people realize.
That’s because heel pain isn’t really a condition in and of itself. It’s a symptom, and the frustrating thing is that that symptom can be produced by any number of very different diagnoses.
The most common of these, at least for adults, is plantar fasciitis, which is an inflammation or tearing of the plantar fascia ligament that runs underneath your foot. If your pain is underneath your heel, and tends to be worst right when you get out of bed, there’s a good chance that plantar fasciitis is your problem.
But it’s certainly not the only possibility. Other problems that can cause pain in, underneath, and behind the heel include:
- Pain or inflammation in the Achilles tendon
- Inflammation of a bursa sac in a joint
- Arthritis in and around the ankle and heel bone
- Nerve compression or injury, such as tarsal tunnel syndrome
- Stress fractures in bone surfaces
We could go on, but you get the idea.
Now, in a lot of minor cases of heel pain, you can resolve the issue yourself through RICE therapy (rest, ice, compression, elevation). But we’re guessing that, if you’re taking the time to read this blog, you’re probably suffering from something a little more severe.
So the first thing you’ll want to do is give us a call so we can accurately diagnose your condition and put you on a customized treatment plan.
Again, almost all cases of heel pain (regardless of the cause) respond well to conservative treatments. And even in the cases where surgery is necessary or recommended (severe pinched nerve, talotarsal displacement, really really stubborn fasciitis), we will often have a minimally invasive option available to drastically reduce your downtime and recovery period.
Few podiatry offices in the region (or country) can match the breadth of advanced heel pain treatments we offer, including:
- MLS laser therapy for rapid acceleration of natural healing processes.
- Fitstation / Go 4-D custom orthotics platform featuring digital scanning, force plate, and 3D-printing technology. (We’re proud to be the first and so far only clinic in Central Texas with this tech!).
- Regenerative medicine injections, including perinatal tissue and growth factor injections and platelet-rich plasma.
- Advanced and minimally invasive surgical procedures, including Dellon Institute nerve decompression, HyProCure, endoscopic plantar fasciotomy, and more.
Obviously, not all of these treatments are applicable in every case of heel pain. Some cases won’t require any of them, if they can be managed through more traditional routes like rest and stretching.
But the point we’re trying to make is that, regardless of what’s actually causing your discomfort, or even how severe it is, we are confident that we can help you get rid of it. We push ourselves to constantly stay on the cutting edge of new services and treatments for heel pain, so you can find relief as quickly and effectively as possible.
Step 2: Keeping the Pain Away
Of course, eliminating your pain in the short term is only half of the battle. It’s equally (if not more) important to make sure the causes of your heel pain are addressed in such a way that it does not keep coming back.
In many cases, the initial treatment will do a lot of the work for you anyway. For example, heel pain that is related to a collapse of the sinus tarsi can be pretty much eliminated long-term with a HyProCure implant. Likewise, the right pair of custom orthotics will adjust your biomechanics in such a way that you remove the source of the discomfort—as long as you are wearing your orthotics and getting them checked and adjusted periodically, of course.
That being said, it’s important to adopt healthy habits and make smart choices in order to protect your heels as much as possible from future threats. This includes things like:
- Always wear proper socks and shoes. That means they fit correctly, give you the support you need, and are well suited to the task or sport you’ll be performing.
- Ease into new activities. Don’t suddenly increase or switch up your exercise routine. Start slow and gradually increase the intensity over several weeks.
- Avoid overtraining. It’s important to give your heels rest days and breaks, especially if you have an occupation or hobbies that keep you on your feet. Consider cross-training in low-impact exercises like swimming or riding a bicycle.
- Eat healthy. Your whole body benefits from a healthy diet. Your feet are no exception.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. If you’re carrying extra weight around, your heels are definitely going to feel it.