At Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists, patients often arrive with a similar complaint: heel pain, especially first thing in the morning or after a prolonged period of sitting. This pain develops slowly and becomes less tolerable over time.
Dr. Richard Nichols and Dr. Joseph Harvey have seen plenty of cases of plantar fasciitis during their careers. It happens when the band of tissue that runs from the base of your toes to your heel — the plantar fascia — becomes inflamed.
If you picture a thick rubber band that is repeatedly stretched and released, you have a pretty close approximation of how your plantar fascia could become worn. Over time, the rubber band will begin to develop small tears; so does your plantar fascia.
If you have a job where you stand for many hours or you’re overweight, you’re more likely to get plantar fasciitis. Also, if you have flat feet or you’re a runner, you’re at greater risk. To return to the rubber band analogy, anything that makes the rubber band stretch too far, or for too long, is more likely to damage it.
Most people tend to just put up with the pain for a long time. After all, if it only hurts for a few steps in the morning, it probably isn’t that big a deal. The problem is, over time, without treatment, plantar fasciitis can become chronic, and your feet might not feel better after a few steps.
Since plantar fasciitis is caused by overuse, rest is an important part of treating it. Of course, if your job requires you to be on your feet, resting may be easier said than done. Anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen may be helpful, but make sure they are okay for you to take.
Dr. Nichols or Dr. Harvey may show you stretches to do each day that can help. Some people find relief in rolling a tennis ball, golf ball, or frozen water bottle under the affected foot helps.
Orthotics and Bracing
Specialized shoe inserts designed specifically for your foot are another treatment approach. Our practice carries over-the-counter, high-quality grade orthotics in our Heavenly Steps Comfort Footwear store.
Another treatment approach is to wear a special brace while you sleep. The brace keeps your foot in a position to gently stretch the plantar fascia.
EPAT (Shock Wave Therapy)
We also offer non-painful, non-invasive, high-intensity sound wave treatments.
Regenerative Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy is a newer treatment, but one that has been used with success in treating plantar fasciitis. Specialized cells called stem cells, which can transform into other types of cells, are injected into your foot.
The stem cells can also replicate themselves. So these cells can help your plantar fascia heal, and as they replicate, they may trigger your body to increase other elements of its own healing response.
Another cutting-edge technology available at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists is neuro stimulation. For people who have long-term, chronic plantar fasciitis, neuro stimulation may be the best method of treatment.
In order to determine if neuro stimulation is right for you, your doctor will first fit you with a wearable stimulator, which is a small device that fits behind your ear and has four small electrodes that are attached to your skin with adhesive.
The device emits electro frequency waves that disrupt the pain signals as they travel from your brain to your feet. Our patients describe the device as comfortable, and you wear it for about seven days.
Afterward, you come in for a follow-up appointment at which time your doctor will evaluate whether the device helped alleviate your pain. Some people need two rounds of wearing the neurostimulator.
If all else fails, Endoscopic Plantar Fasciotomy surgery may be an option for you.
If you have heel pain, you don’t have to just live with it, even if it isn’t a constant pain. There are treatments that can help, and the doctors at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists can help you understand what’s likely to work best for your situation. Schedule an appointment today by calling our Grapevine office at 817-438-7979 or our Keller office at 817-494-1957.