I think I may have plantar fasciitis…
So, you think you have pain in the arch of the foot and its plantar fasciitis.. Or Plantar Fasciopathy? Or is it plantar heel pain? Policeman’s heel? Heel spur even?! or just blumin pain in the bottom of the heel … jeez!
That’s ok! The foot is complex structure with 26 bones, 107 ligaments, 33 joints and an awful lot more with muscles, nerves and all of the vascular supply all packed into a relatively small area. I’ve been working as a Podiatrist for around 11 years now and I’m still developing my understanding of feet all the time.
For now, we will call it plantar fasciitis and this is when you sometimes feel a sharp or dull pain in the heel typically when you get up in the morning or after sitting for long periods. The painful heel can sometimes present with a burning or stabbing feeling too. With a burning sensation in the foot the problem can sometimes be something slightly different, but not to worry. Leave the diagnosing and assessment to us.
What can a podiatrist do?
When I see my patients for a musculoskeletal consultation or biomechanical assessment, I spend a lot of my time firstly getting to know them, their lifestyle, work patterns, footwear choices, if they are under any stresses, their family life, activity level and how often and at what intensity they do them. I take a thorough history of the problem before any physical tests or assessments are even contemplated. The collection of such valuable information cannot be underestimated.
After this we go into more detail for e.g. physically assessing the patient and taking measurements of foot function and range of motion, muscle strength, to using the latest Footscan technology for their gait analysis and really understand the cause(s) of a patient’s heel pain. I like to look at all aspects of the lower-limb and assess further-up the kinetic chain as well as ‘deficiencies’ here can have an influence further down at foot-level and vice-versa.
Shall I wait to see if the pain settles?
You could do. It could just be a bit of a ‘flare-up’ where you’ve overloaded the heel or the plantar fascia but chances are it will come back. Treating heel pain or any foot problem is much easier in its initial acute stages rather than leaving it and the problem becoming chronic. In its chronic stage, a sore heel is treatable but keep in mind it may require a few more sessions than one in its acute stage.
Should I See a podiatrist?
When it comes to medical problems, we all know the internet provides a lot of information, sometimes good, sometimes not so good. There are lots of tips on how to treat plantar fasciitis but just keep in mind that what works for one-person won’t always work for another! There are many different causes of plantar fasciitis so using a generic treatment plan probably isn’t the answer.
Another thing is that a lot of the information online is outdated. Stretching your calves or rolling a cold can under the arch isn’t really the answer. Being a sports podiatrist, I am constantly reading-up on the latest and most evidence-based treatment plans that to give my patients the most ‘bang for their buck’. Whilst it would be wrong to guarantee anyone perfect results, I appreciate the time and money a patient spends with me and I want them to be pain free as quickly as possible.
What about seeing my doctor?
I have huge respect for GP’s but in a 10-15 minute appointment it is understandable that a lot of the time only generic advice can be given. This means the heel pain is a) likely to come back b) more likely to remain in the background c) may not go at all d) you may have to take medication. The difference is we spend 60-90 minutes on an initial appointment. Yes, you pay for the service but if it means having pain free feet and being able to go to work, the gym or for a run and not have to worry that your feet will be sore, tired or aching or how you will stand-up the next day, well, then that’s got to be worth it.
So, yes, I think it is definitely worth seeing a podiatrist. Oh, and don’t forget we specialise in the latest custom-made 3D-printed orthotics (as used by international athletes. Don’t worry we price them to be more affordable than you may think and quite often if you’ve got health insurance this will cover insoles and orthotics!).
Do orthotics/’special insoles’ help?
As a sufferer of heel pain myself and having flat, overly-pronated feet, I can honestly say I have benefited from wearing orthotics over the past 10 years. They aren’t for everyone and not everyone will need a pair but they can often form part of the overall treatment plan. Just keep in mind there a hundreds of different ones around and they can vary in materials used, densities, shapes, top covers etc. Knowing which ones you might need can be a little mind boggling. Specialising in orthotics is what we do and at RS-Podiatry Clinic we have narrowed our selection down to a select few which we think patients will a) find comfortable b) find beneficial c) find affordable (please ask for more details on this) and d) find snazzy to wear (if you’re going to wear orthotics you may as well have some trendy looking ones, right?!).
Please remember, all the information in the article above is not intended as medical advice for heel pain or otherwise and should not be taken as such.
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Thanks for reading!