A large proportion of us have experienced pain in one or both heels at some stage of our lives, but when the pain becomes more than just an ache in the morning and starts to affect activities of daily living, it’s time to see a qualified health professional. No one should have to suffer from ongoing heel pain, and that’s where podiatrists and podiatric surgeons use their knowledge and skill to get you back to doing the activities you love.
Heel Pain Explained
The most common cause of heel pain is a condition called plantar fasciitis which affects a strong band running from the heel to the toes on the bottom of the foot. People typically complain of an aching or stabbing sensation with tenderness to press at the bottom of the heel. There are a number of different factors which contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis including foot type, poor choice of footwear, activity and poor foot mechanics. Most people with plantar fasciitis experience pain when they first get up in the morning, which gradually eases with activity and pain when rising from a period of sitting or inactivity.
Treatment for common heel pain
Initial treatment for heel pain often involves a few simple changes to your lifestyle. In the first instance, stretching exercises of the calves and hamstrings can be helpful as well as ensuring you are wearing supportive footwear that fits properly and is suitable for your work and leisure activities. You may be required to temporarily cease a particular activity such as running until the inflammation is reduced. If symptoms persist, a proper biomechanical examination by a podiatrist or podiatric surgeon is essential to determine if your foot type is putting excessive load or strain on the plantar fascia. Orthotics to reduce this load may be recommended and can be worn in many different types of athletic and work footwear. For resistant heel pain, further treatment may be required including specialized imaging (MRI) to visualize the exact location and degree of severity.
What if nothing has worked…
Podiatric surgeons specialise in the surgical management of foot related pain and deformity and are highly skilled at diagnosing and treating complex problems with conservative measures and surgical techniques. Surgery for plantar fasciitis involves releasing one of the bands on the plantar fascia and can be done either via an open or keyhole surgery. The procedure is usually performed as a day surgery with minimal downtime postoperatively.
Top tips for understanding and resolving your heel pain:
- Seek an early opinion – early management leads to a better long-term outcome
- Ask questions – ensure you understand the cause of your heel pain and the steps you and your podiatrist or podiatric surgeon will take to resolve it, ask away!
- Don’t settle for long-term pain – see a podiatric surgeon for an opinion if conservative treatment hasn’t resolved your pain
- Finally, don’t give up! – seek a second opinion or discuss your options for surgery
Dr Andrew Knox of Perth Podiatric Surgery frequently performs surgery for chronic cases of plantar fasciitis in Perth. Book an appointment online to see Dr Andrew Knox or speak to one of our friendly staff members on 08 9383 3851.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended for general information purposes only. Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.