Do you dread those first few steps in the morning? Or after you’ve been sitting for awhile and go to get back up? Are you concerned that that trip you have planned will be ruined because it involves a lot of walking or hiking and you’re expecting that your heel pain will make you miserable? Heel Pain is one of the most common complaints seen in our office. Fortunately, it’s also one of the most easily treatable foot conditions. We’re very good at eliminating heel pain quickly, preventing it from returning, and getting you back to your active lifestyle quickly and comfortably.
A common misconception is that heel spurs cause heel pain. In fact, most heel pain is caused by instability of the foot, or excessive flattening of the arch, that causes the ligament that runs from your heel, across the arch, to the ball of your foot to stretch excessively with every step you take. This leads to inflammation of the ligament, and is called Plantar Fasciitis. While spurs may be present on x-rays, they are really the result of a lifetime of this low-grade inflammation, causing the ligament to calcify, or become bone. We don’t need to remove the spur to get you comfortable. We are very successful at relieving heel pain quickly and permanently through a variety of conservative options. Rarely is surgery necessary.
The focus of our treatment is two-fold; to reduce the inflammation and pain quickly, and for long-term relief, to address the instability, which is ultimately the cause of the problem. Oral anti-inflammatory medications may be useful in controlling the pain, and physical therapy modalities may be helpful initially. Cryoanalgesia, a simple, minor in-office procedure is also very successful at significantly reducing or alleviating the pain. It’s more effective and longer lasting than cortisone, without the potential side effects of cortisone. It’s virtually replaced cortisone injections for heel pain in our practice. The main emphasis of treatment, however, is to reduce the forces that are causing the plantar fascia to stretch excessively. This usually includes custom-molded orthotics. Over-the-counter arch supports are not orthotics. They are not made for anyone in particular. While over-the-counter arch supports can provide some relief of painful foot conditions, they are not ideal. They are not custom-made to your foot, so they don’t know the position your foot is supposed to function in. It’s like taking a pair of reading glasses off the shelf at a pharmacy when you really need prescription lenses. With orthotics, we take molds of your feet with all the bones and joints lined up appropriately, so when they are built by the lab and you wear them, they will maintain proper foot position and function. They will maintain your maximum arch, balance the weight bearing forces across your foot, eliminate instability and provide the proper foot function for your individual feet. This addresses the cause of the problem and prevents it from continuing to be a problem. If you have heel or arch pain, there’s no need to live with it. Come see us at Kansas City Foot and Ankle so you can get back to your active lifestyle.