Over a hundred tendons, thirty-three joints, and twenty-six bones make up your foot. The largest bone in the foot is the heel. This absorbs considerable pressure when you walk or run and is susceptible to varying ranges of pain. Some mild pain after wearing heels or spending a long time on your feet might be normal. This can be managed by rest and massage. Persistent pain or intermittent short bursts of heel pain, however, warrants a doctor’s checkup.
The most common condition managed in a heel pain treatment center is plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is the flat ligament along your foot’s bottom. This ligament can become strained and torn, causing it to be strained, inflamed, and swollen. Heel pain when you get up from the bed or from a prolonged sitting position is the primary symptom of plantar fasciitis. Over 90% of patients report an improvement in their symptoms with non-invasive treatment approaches. Here are these treatment options.
ESWT (Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy)
This is an outpatient procedure where mechanical shockwaves will be administered into your heel through a hand-held device. There are no injections or incisions involved in the procedure. The shockwaves of ESWT will stimulate your body to increase the metabolic responses and blood circulation to your heel. In doing so, your body will naturally heal the tears and strains responsible for your heel pain. The nerves in your heel will also be stunned to stop sending pain impulses.
Orthotic shoe inserts
These are meant to realign your plantar fascia ligament, deliver acupressure to your heel bone, and cushion the heel. The shoe insert will stimulate your body to heal itself naturally. The inserts will also allow you to carry on your activities of daily living without heel pain. Arch supports, gel inserts, and customized orthotics are the leading options for shoe inserts for the management of plantar fasciitis.
Cortisone is an anti-inflammatory drug. It can be injected into your heel to reduce the inflammation of the fascia. It eases the heel pain for a month or so and keeps the inflammation down for a long time. Even so, this is not a routine option for the management of plantar fasciitis. This is because it carries the risk of rupturing the plantar fascia and atrophying your heel’s fat pad. You can opt for oral cortisone in place of the injection, though this is not as effective as the latter.
Exercises and Stretches
These are designed to relax the tissues around an inflamed plantar fascia. There are simple exercises you can perform in the mornings and evenings, but those performed under a physiotherapist’s guidance have the most significant benefits. Ultrasonography, contrast baths, and massages can be combined with exercise to maximize their benefits.
Surgical interventions for plantar fasciitis are reserved for patients who have adhered to the above treatments for not less than nine months with no symptomatic relief. The procedure is known as a fascia release surgery. When successful, surgery will offer life-long symptomatic relief of plantar fasciitis.