If you should be bothered by any or all of the symptoms mentioned, the first step in treatment can be tried at home. Often, heel pain relief can be attained by:
- Padding the heel with a soft, foam-rubber material.
- Wearing supportive shoes with a thick rubber heel.
- Placing ice against the bottom of the heel to reduce swelling.
- Stretching the calf muscles.
If these measures fail, it is time to consult your podiatrist. A careful medical history, a complete clinical examination of your feet and sometimes x-rays are used to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.
Treatment of the “heel-spur syndrome”–or plantar fasciitis is two-fold. First, the inflammation responsible for the discomfort needs to be reduced, and secondly, the abnormal motion of the foot needs to be controlled. Reduction of the inflammation can sometimes be accomplished simply by reducing the amount of motion. This can be achieved temporarily with taping or strapping the feet.
If symptoms resolve fairly quickly, then many times no further treatment is needed unless there is another flare-up. Oral or topical anti-inflammatory medications often are helpful in reducing this inflammation and occasionally an injection of local anesthesia and cortisone into the inflamed area is needed to calm it down.
Controlling the abnormal motion is the key to preventing recurrence of this syndrome. The most effective means of doing this is with the use of a custom-fitted orthotic device.
When the condition has existed so long that these methods of treatment fail to resolve the symptoms, surgical treatment is sometimes necessary to afford permanent relief. Fortunately on October 12, 2000, the US Food & Drug Administration granted approval to market the OssaTron, a new device that uses shock waves to treat chronic heel pain. This is a 15 minute procedure that allows you to immediately walk in your regular shoes after the procedure and has over a 70% success rate.