Heel pain can vary widely in its severity and its causes and it should never be ignored because the sooner it’s addressed with your podiatrist, the more likely it is to improve without surgical intervention. If you have persistent heel pain, it's important to consult with a podiatrist in New Orleans, LA, to determine the causes and establish a treatment plan that will relieve your pain and help prevent reoccurance. Keep reading to learn more about how our team of foot and ankle specialists can help you better understand, correct, and even prevent moderate to severe heel pain.
Understanding Your Heel Pain
The majority of moderate to severe heel pain is caused by plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is the band of tough, flexible tissue that runs under the sole of your foot, connecting the heel bone with the rest of the foot bones. As you go about your daily activities, it supports the arch of the foot and serves as a shock absorber when walking or running. Over time, however, repeated tension and stress to the plantar fascia can cause the tiny tears, known as microtears, to develop in the tissue, resulting in a thicker plantar fascia and recurring heel pain. This condition is what's commonly known as plantar fasciitis and it accounts for roughly 80% of all heel pain in patients. Plantar fasciitis is commonly seen in athletes, patients who are overweight, obese or pregnant, patients who frequently wear high heels, patients who pronate, and patients who stand for long periods of time on hard surfaces.
Other, less common causes of heel pain can include the following:
- Fat pad atrophy – When the layer of fat underneath the heel bone begins to deteriorate under too much strain
- Bursitis – Inflammation of one or more of the bursa (small sacs of fluid under the skin, located over the joints and between bones and tendons)
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome – When a cyst or damage to the tarsal tunnel in the ankle joint causes nerves to become compressed (similar to carpal tunnel in the hands and wrists)
- Sever's disease – Caused by muscles and tendons of the hamstrings and calves tightening and straightening during growth spurts, pulling on the growth plate in the heel (only seen in children)
- Heel spurs – An excess growth of bone, which may or may not cause pain
Understanding your heel pain's exact cause will help guide the treatment process. We encourage you to schedule an appointment with our podiatrist to better understand what's causing your heel pain.
Fixing Your Heel Pain
While we recommend non-invasive procedures as much as possible, sometimes surgery is necessary to provide you with the highest quality of life. Depending on the source of your pain, we can prescribe a number of different treatments and procedures to alleviate your symptoms. Here are just a few of the treatments we may recommend:
- Custom orthotics – This non-invasive approach to heel pain can help to reduce the strain placed on certain areas of your feet, including the plantar fascia, to help alleviate severe heel pain. This treatment method is ideal for plantar fasciitis, arthritis, tarsal tunnel syndrome, and more.
- Extra corporeal shockwave therapy (ECSWT) – This advanced treatment method helps to increase healing by stimulating the immune response. This non-invasive procedure can help to proactively heal the damage to tendons in the foot that lead to conditions like plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis. It is most successful for treating painful, chronic and plantar fasciitis.
- Cold laser therapy – Also known as Class IV red light laser therapy, this non-invasive treatment uses different wavelengths to stimulate damaged cells and promote regeneration and healing. Cold laser is used in conjunction with ECSWT to remediate chronic cases of Plantar Fasciitis.
Dr. Edward Lang and the New Orleans Podiatry Associates Team offer a variety of state of the art treatment options to suit a patient’s individual needs. Please reach out to New Orleans Podiatry Associates today at 504-897-3627 to learn more about how our foot and ankle experts can help you relieve plantar fasciitis pain and reclaim your quality of life.
Preventing Future Heel Pain
Any solution for heel pain is only as good as the long-term results it can provide. That's why many of the treatments we offer, including those described above, are combined with recommendations on nutrition, biomechanics and shoe gear, to help patients maintain optimal foot health and prevent Plantar fasciitis recurrence. In addition to the treatments we provide, we may also recommend physical therapy exercises that help to strengthen and lengthen tendons, and advice on how to reduce the strain placed on the bones, joints, and tendons in your feet.
Together, you and your podiatrist will collaborate to develop and implement your personalized prescription for better long-term results and a life with less heel pain.
Don't Mask Your Heel Pain—Treat It
If you're masking your heel pain with anti-inflammatory medications daily, it's time to take a different approach. At New Orleans Podiatry Associates, we help treat your heel pain at its source with non-invasive procedures and ongoing treatment plans that help you live a better life. Contact us today to learn more about our New Orleans podiatry services.