From teachers and health professionals to construction workers, police, and firefighters, there’s no shortage of Chicagoans who spend most of the day on their feet. When you depend on your feet to get you through your day, constant heel pain can be a major obstacle that significantly reduces your quality of life.
The most common heel pain cause in American adults is plantar fasciitis, an inflammation in the band of tissue supporting your arch near the bottom of the heel. Often, heel spurs—calcium deposits that build up on the front of the heel bone—can also occur alongside plantar fasciitis.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Spurs
The “telltale” symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain along the bottom of the foot, in front of the heel, that tends to be most severe right after getting out of bed or getting up from an extended break. This is because the swollen tissue shortens when at rest, and reacts in pain when forced to bear weight again. After a few minutes, the tissues stretch a bit and pain is reduced.
Over time, the heel pain you feel from plantar fasciitis (both in the early morning and throughout the day) may increase. Heel spurs, by contrast, usually do not cause pain on their own (only about 5% of cases have symptoms) and do not usually need direct treatment, although they can be removed if they are causing issues.
Treatments for Heel Pain
Dr. Daniel Walters stresses conservative care for plantar fasciitis, and a majority of cases can be resolved without surgery. Two highly effective strategies we frequently employ include:
- Physical therapy. This is one of the most powerful solutions to persistent heel pain, with a 90% success rate. Our therapist, Michael, is on staff to teach and assist with stretches, strengthening exercises, deep tissue and Swedish massage, trigger point work, muscle stimulation, therapeutic ultrasound, and more. These techniques are non-invasive and do not require injections or surgery, and alleviate your pain by stretching tight tendons and building up supporting muscles in the lower leg.
- Custom orthotics. These tools are used to address painful conditions in the heels and the arches. Often, there is a mechanical flaw contributing to your heel or arch pain—for example flat feet, or even an abnormal walking pattern. In addition to providing extra cushioning, a custom orthotic can add additional arch support or even correct foot motion, reducing the strain on your heel and spreading your weight around more evenly. Unlike shoe inserts bought at a drug store, custom orthotics are made from a mold of your feet, so they fit just right.
Surgery is an option only when conservative treatments have been tried extensively and you are still experiencing pain. Fortunately, this is extremely rare.
Whatever your profession, you need your feet working properly. You don’t have to continue suffering through painful heels from plantar fasciitis. Dr. Daniel J. Walters, DPM and our friendly, caring staff in Garfield Ridge are here to help Chicagoans get back on their feet as quickly as possible, with the minimum amount of hassle. We also proudly offer a 10% discount to first responders, including police, fire, and EMTs, who rely on their feet every day to keep our community safe.
To make an appointment with Dr. Walters, please call our office today at (773) 586-0050. You can also complete our online contact form and request a time.