By Dr. Dorian Jimenez, DPM
So you’ve enjoyed the warm weather with your favorite pair of flip flops or sandals for the whole summer. You wore them so much that there are little toe marks where you made imprints from walking many miles with the fresh air blowing across your toes. And you started a work out routine or a do-it-yourself home project that required some ladder climbing (just a side note, I stay away from ladders).
Now let me ask you a few simple questions about your feet:
- Do you wake up in the morning with a toothache-like sensation in the bottom of your foot?
- Is it sometimes accompanied by a fiery sensation shooting into the arch or up the inside of your ankle?
- Have you said to yourself, “Oh, it will go away, it’s probably normal, it’s just my foot.”
- Has it gone away yet?!
If the answers to the questions are three “yes”es and one big “NO!” then allow me to explain.
First of all, no pain in your feet is “normal.” Sure, your feet may feel tired at times and you may even ask your husband or wife to rub your feet after a long day. That’s understandable. However, waking up every morning to pain in your heels and arches is not normal, even though it does go away after you “warm up a little.”
You are most likely suffering from a condition called “plantar fasciitis” or as it’s also known, “heel spur syndrome.” Plantar fasciitis sounds fancy but boils down to a lack of adequate support for your feet. The plantar fascia is a ligament on the bottom of the foot that helps with arch support and prevents our foot from flattening out like a pancake (although some people do have pancake flat feet!). Without proper support, that ligament is forced to work too hard and ends up pulling on the heel bone, causing a spur to form.
This is one of the most common ailments treated by the foot and ankle specialist.
But you’re in luck! It does go away with the right treatment plan. As I mentioned, good arch support is a must on a daily basis. There are many different insoles and pads that can help carry out this task. In addition, shoe wear is important and must be combined with arch inserts. I ask all of my patients to wear shoes from the first steps on the way to the bathroom in the mornings until the last steps before bed at nights. I know it doesn’t always happen, but I keep asking.
Another helpful treatment for more chronic plantar fasciits is Extracorporeal Shock Wave Treatment or, more commonly known as ESWT. Yes, I am recommending you consider shocking your foot to get rid of your heel pain.
Now it’s not as Frankenstein-ish as it sounds. In fact, these are not electric shock waves as some of you may be thinking. ESWT uses high-energy sound waves to help the damaged soft tissues and bone heal back stronger. ESWT is a simple, non-invasive procedure that can be performed in an office or operating room setting. While not all insurance companies cover the procedure, the FDA has approved some ESWT machines for the treatment of heel pain. The procedure takes approximately 30 minutes to complete and you are able to walk the same day.
As I stated before, most cases of heel pain will resolve with the right conservative treatment plan. However, in those cases that linger on and continue to cause you to walk like you’re 107 years old in the mornings, ESWT may be an option for you to consider.
- Facts about Plantar Fasciitis (FootSmart.com)
- All About Plantar Fasciitis (WebMD.com video)
- Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Plantar Fasciitis(everydayhealth.com)