Do you dread the first step out of bed every morning?
Are aching heels keeping you from the things you love to do—whether that’s golfing, hiking, running, hunting, playing sports, or just spending time with the family?
You may have shrugged off the pain in the past—“This is just part of getting older, right?”
Wrong. Feet shouldn’t hurt. Heel pain is not normal. And the professionals at Kalamazoo Podiatry have the tools and training you need to stop hurting, start feeling better, and get back to your favorite activities.
Get Your Free Guide to Understanding Heel and Foot Pain
We are providing this information to you and others in our community who suffer from heel pain because we believe that the more you know about the causes of heel pain and the many ways we are able to treat this condition, the better prepared you will be to make the best possible decisions about your health.
What Causes Heel Pain?
Heel pain is not really a “condition” to be diagnosed. It is a symptom, and it can be associated with several different possible conditions—each of which can have their own set of underlying causes.
Sound confusing? Just think of it this way: In order to help you find the best possible diagnosis and treatment for your heel pain, we need to identify two things: what kind of tissue has been injured, and why.
In terms of the clinical diagnoses, some of the most common heel pain conditions include:
- Plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia, a tough band of connective tissue on the bottom of your foot, has become stretched or torn near the underside of the heel. Pain tends to be worst right after getting up, either from bed or a long sit.
- Achilles tendinitis. The Achilles tendon at the back of the heel is strained and suffering from either inflammation, tearing, or degeneration of the tendon fibers.
- Bursitis. A fluid-filled bursa sac near the back of your heel becomes inflamed. (Bursae are responsible for providing cushioning and lubrication for various joints throughout your body.)
- Stress fractures. Due to repetitive impact stresses, bones begin to develop hairline cracks that may deepen or expand without rest.
- Nerve irritation. Nerves responsible for processing sensory information in the feet may become injured, pinched, or otherwise irritated due to injury, inflammation, or compression. Heel pain is one possible symptom.
- Heel spurs. Extended cases of plantar fasciitis may cause a spur of hard calcium to form on the heel bone. These can be painful on their own (apart from plantar fasciitis) if the spur is pressing on sensitive tissues.
- Severs Disease. An issue that develops due to differences in physical maturity between the calcaneus (heel bone) and the Achilles tendon
In addition to the diagnosis, we’ll want to establish the root, underlying causes. These, of course, vary from condition to condition (and even between two instances of the same condition), but often include things like:
- Wearing poor quality shoes, or shoes that are not appropriate for your chosen activity.
- Overtraining without taking adequate rest, especially if you have a lot of high-impact sports or hobbies that you enjoy (running and jumping sports, for example).
- Structural defects in your feet, such as having particularly flat feet or high arches.
- Biomechanical issues with your gait pattern while walking or running.
- Occupations that require standing or walking for long periods of time—teachers, service workers, factory and warehouse workers, health care professionals, etc.
What Can I Do About My Heel Pain?
Heel pain should never be ignored. If simple strategies like rest or stretching do not give you the consistent, complete relief you deserve, give us a call. In the vast majority of cases, we can solve the issue on a long-term basis without resorting to surgery.
At Kalamazoo Podiatry, we believe our patients deserve the highest quality care, personalized to their specific needs. What works for one particular person may not be the best choice for another, even if the diagnoses are the same.
We offer a full range of effective treatment options, including some of the most cutting-edge, non-surgical techniques available. While not every person will require an “advanced” solution to their heel pain, having these options available allows us to tackle many of the most stubborn cases of heel pain.
Conventional Treatment Options
The “tried and true” conservative methods are often the first choice for mild-to-moderate cases of heel pain, and may be all that is required. These include, but are not limited to:
If you’re struggling to manage your heel pain, using RICE can help. RICE is an acronym that stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
RICE is a simple, yet effective, care plan to follow when you have suffered an acute injury or struggle with chronic pain. When you become injured, stopping the activity and resting is essential to prevent the worsening of the injury. Icing, compressing, and elevating the area will help to reduce swelling and pain. If your heel pain persists, you should contact our office for an appointment.
No matter what is causing your heel pain, the truth is that it’s probably keeping you from doing the things you love. One simple way to help relieve and prevent heel pain is to stretch regularly. Your heels, just like any other collection of muscles and tendons, can get sore or strained from overuse. Having a consistent routine of stretching can relieve tightness and inflammation and help prevent future injury.
Click here for recommended stretches and to learn more about the benefits of stretching.
MLS Laser Therapy
Are you an athlete or busy body who’s been ignoring your heel pain because you don’t want to be off your feet for a few days? MLS Laser therapy is a great, noninvasive option that will get you back to practice or playing tag with the grandkids as quickly as possible. This cutting-edge technology uses a pair of synchronized lasers to penetrate deep into the tissue to help reduce pain and accelerate healing, getting you back on your feet in no time.
4-D Custom Orthotics
Curing your heel problems isn’t just about stopping pain, it’s also about tackling the root cause to make sure you’re pain-free for good. With digital scanning and 3D printing, we are able to make custom orthotics that are more effective, flexible, and comfortable than ever.
Our highly precise technology, coupled with our constantly evolving medical knowledge of foot and ankle biomechanics, allows us to design top-of-the-line orthotics that are custom fit to your foot and gait. This means spectacular comfort and a much higher overall success rate than store-bought orthotics in every single step.
Some forms of heel pain can benefit from regenerative injection therapy. Unlike cortisone, a regenerative injection is a natural compound that not only relieves pain but also helps your body naturally heal damaged and inflamed tissue while simultaneously strengthening healthy tissue. This natural biomolecule is a great option for those who are struggling with chronic or unresponsive heel pain.
Wearing the wrong shoes or shoes that don’t fit appropriately might be a cause of heel pain so subtle you haven’t even considered it. Whether you’re running around the court or standing by the copier at work, having the right pair of shoes is essential to keeping you on your toes and doing the things you love.
With so many options, choosing the right shoes for the right activities can seem overwhelming; however, in the long run, it will not only help you prevent injuries and heel pain, but it will also help keep you performing at your best.
Click here to find tips on choosing the right shoes for you.
So, as you can see, we have a lot of effective treatment options to help you get better—and we’ll always take as much time as necessary to give you expert medical advice, explain your options and work alongside you to personalize the treatment plan that’s right for you.
Repeat it with us: heel pain is not normal! If painful heels won’t go away no matter what you do, give us a call so we can help take away your pain. You can reach our Kalamazoo office at (269) 373-1019.