How to Find the Right Solution for Your Heel Pain
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Who doesn’t love a good mystery? The best of them often mislead you toward one culprit much of the way, only for the actual solution to turn your expectations upside-down!
A good whodunit story is one thing, of course, but a real-life mystery that’s causing you pain is not much fun at all. For many who come through our doors, heel pain can be such a mystery.
The Problem with Heel Pain
For something that sounds so simple, heel pain can be deceptively difficult to treat.
The reason for this is that heel pain is not really a condition in itself, but often the symptom of another underlying problem – or sometimes multiple problems!
And when you look into each possible problem, you may find several different potential causes. Sometimes more than one cause can be in play, as well.
With so many possibilities, it’s easy to see how a simple symptom like heel pain can conceal an intricate web beneath it. To best treat any individual case of heel pain, all of the factors contributing to it must be identified and properly addressed. If something is left untreated, the heel pain may not fully go away, or it may come back in the future.
We have had plenty of patients try one or two remedies for heel pain on their own, only to be disappointed when they saw very limited or no results. If this describes you, it does not mean that your case is hopeless. It does not even necessarily mean your case is particularly difficult, either!
It just means you haven’t found the right treatment for your needs, and that’s why we’re here to help. Ultimately, most cases of heel pain are easily treated with conservative methods – no surgery required.
Investigating the Causes of Heel Pain
In order to have a high degree of confidence in your treatment protocol, you need to understand the factors that are causing your heel pain. That requires both a comprehensive physical evaluation and learning more about your heel pain affects your life.
Every bit of information can make a difference. For example, let’s say two patients came in and were diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, one of the most common causes of heel pain. However:
- Patient A works at a factory, spending all day on their feet on hard surfaces.
- Patient B is a long-distance runner.
It can be quite likely that Patient A’s plantar fasciitis is a result of strain caused by the environment. In other words, they have to spend all day standing on concrete, and gravity is essentially causing the strain. Patient B, however, may likely have their heel pain as a result of overuse: too many repetitive impacts against from running without enough time to rest.
The choices we make for a treatment plan will be different depending on these factors. But then, what if we discover Patient A also has an abnormal foot structure, such as flat feet or high arches? That also can be contributing to their pain, and must be addressed accordingly, too.
Approaches to Treating Heel Pain
Just as there can potentially be more than one root cause behind a particular case of heel pain, there can be more than one way to treat it, too.
An overall treatment plan might consist of one or more elements, depending on the specific needs and lifestyles of each patient. Some are relatively simple changes, while others are engaged treatments.
Certain treatments include, but are not limited to:
- Changes in footwear. Often, switching to more supportive footwear can have a positive effect.
- Changes in work environment. For our Patient A example above, being able to stand on a softer anti-fatigue mat can make a difference.
- Changes to exercise routines. For Patient B, not focusing so heavily on running throughout the week may be necessary, incorporating cross-training on certain days instead.
- Stretching and physical therapy. Following specific stretching and exercise regimens can help condition strained sites of pain, as well as connecting muscles, tendons and ligaments that might be exerting too much stress.
- MLS laser therapy. When the root of heel pain lies in a soft tissue injury (and most do), laser therapy has the potential to help relieve pain and accelerate the healing process – all by stimulating the body’s own natural processes.
- Extracorporeal Pulse Activation Technology (EPAT). An advanced treatment similar to laser therapy that uses high pressure soundwaves instead of laser energy.
- Custom orthotics. When an abnormal foot structure places excess force on vulnerable areas of the foot and heel, custom orthotics can provide proper redistribution of weight and cushioned support where needed.
While uncommon, there are some cases of heel pain in which treatments such as those above do not yield the desired results. When conservative treatments are not viable, surgery then becomes a consideration.
If surgery is in the picture, we will fully discuss our recommendations with you, as well as what you can expect before, during, and after a procedure. We will also happily answer any questions you have to ensure you can make the best decisions regarding your treatment moving forward.
Getting the Answers to Your Heel Pain Questions
Regardless of how long you have had heel pain or what you’ve already tried to treat it with, your case is not unsolvable. We can help you get to the source of your condition and not only provide direct treatment, but also recommend preventative care to keep future problems at bay.
Call us at either of our area offices to schedule an appointment: