Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Oh My Aching Heels"

If you've ever experienced the sensation of a sharp knife piercing the bottom of your heel when taking your first step out of bed during the middle of the night on the way to the toilet after a wonderfully peaceful night's sleep, it's probably due to plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the supporting soft tissue under the heel. A complicated solution to this problem would be to call the plumber and have him move the toilet closer to your bed or to call the urologist and get catheterized. A simpler answer is to schedule an appointment with your Podiatrist.

According to a survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association, 16% of the population regularly experience heel pain. Not very surprising considering all the steps we take in the course of a day. Of the 28 bones in the foot, the heel seems to take the most abuse.

There are numerous conditions in addition to plantar fasciitis that can cause your heel to hurt. Some of these include bone bruise, bursitis, stress fracture, arthritis, gout, bone cysts and nerve entrapment. The key to successful treatment of the heel pain is proper diagnosis and early initiation of therapy. Some of the in-office diagnostic tools used by podiatrists include X-ray, diagnostic ultrasound and nerve conduction. Once the diagnosis of plantar fasciitis is made, initial treatment options may include rest, ice, massage, stretching exercises, cortisone injection, and foot orthotics. Studies have demonstared a 95% success rate with these conservative methods. Surgical options should be considered for more difficult cases.

Some of the latest podiatric surgical procedures for treatment of plantar fasciitis include low energy and high energy shock wave therapy, cryotherapy, coblation therapy and endoscopic plantar fasciotomy/coblation. The shock wave therapy in non-invasive (no incision is made) while the latter three procedures are minimally invasive (a very small incision is made).

So call your Podiatrist and let him "remove the knife" from your heel. There's no one better trained to relieve your pain.

Dedicated to your foot health,
Dr. Paul G. Yungst, DABPS