Get Help for Heel Pain

Pain to legs, knees and feet comes with the territory of running, walking or spending a lot of time on your feet. If you experience heel pain, you can probably point to one of two common sources:

Achilles tendinitis, inflammation in the long tendon that inserts in the back of your heel; or
Plantar fasciitis, an inflammation located in a different spot on the undersurface of your heel affecting the long band of tissue running from your heel bone to your toes.

Both conditions are caused by repetitive impact or any motion that results in the tearing or irritation in the soft tissue, such as running.

It is important to tackle the problem when it begins by stopping the activity and putting ice on the problem for 10 minutes at a time, two to three times each day. Anti-inflammatory medications such as Aleve or Advil, in combination, with calf stretching are important. Rest, ice and anti-inflammatories are standard treatments for a number of orthopedic conditions that involve inflammation and pain, but they will get you pain-free only if you are diligent and do all three each day for the recommended time frame. Try this approach for at least three full weeks and don’t miss a day.

Additionally, if you have plantar fasciitis, rolling a golf ball under the arch of your foot will massage the irritated tissue and make it feel better. A cortisone injection may be helpful, too. In the case of Achilles tendinitis, splinting or even casting is also a short-term option. Surgery is rarely needed for either condition. Before returning to running, consider getting a shoe evaluation at a running store to ensure that you are wearing an appropriate model for your foot positioning. I have seen accomplished runners let too much time go by and run on worn-out shoes. Once you can raise your toes without pain, it is best to begin training with jumping jacks or skipping rope and gradually return to running. You can be back to training without any heel pain with this straight forward approach to caring for your feet.

Dr. Tannenbaum practices at Southern Indiana Orthopedics, 940 N. Marr Road, Columbus. You can contact him at 812-376-9353.

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