Fear of the unknown—and in particular, fear that you might be told you need surgery—can be a powerful demotivating force. Unfortunately, it can sometimes keep people dragging their feet (metaphorically speaking, of course) about seeing a podiatrist for their heel pain until their discomfort is almost unbearable.
But here are two very important things you should know:
- There is no reason to be afraid, and
- By delaying care, you’re only hurting yourself more in the long run
That’s because, regardless of the cause of your heel pain, conservative treatments are almost always going to be effective in the end at resolving it—especially thanks to some new advanced procedures we have here at Capital Podiatry Associates.
In fact, surgery is probably only needed in about 5 percent of cases, if even that. And the sooner you come in to see us, the less likely you’ll be one of that 5 percent.
How do we do it? Let’s start with the basics, then talk a little bit more about advanced options for particularly stubborn cases.
Traditional Conservative Remedies Often Do the Trick
You’d be surprised at how often a handful of very basic non-surgical strategies can deliver profound relief from heel pain, in a reasonable amount of time.
For many minor cases of heel pain, we may never need to move beyond these steps—and even in cases where heel pain is more difficult to treat, they will still likely be part of your overall treatment plan.
Broadly speaking, there are two main goals here:
- Alleviate your symptoms
- Address the root causes of the pain so it stops coming back
Traditional options for the first goal include treatments such as physical therapy, stretching, wearing splints at night, icing the swollen heel, and others. Tougher pain may require an injection of cortisone to provide longer-term symptom relief.
As for addressing the root causes, that could be as simple as making sure you always wear comfortable and supportive shoes, although in many cases we will also recommend orthotics.
A surprisingly large percentage of heel pain conditions feature faulty foot structure or biomechanics as a primary (or at least contributing) cause. The right pair of orthotics will not only offload the weight and pressure, but actually correct abnormal motion so that you stop damaging your heels.
Advanced Non-Surgical (and Drug Free!) Care for Tougher Pain
Now, it’s possible that you’ve already tried the above strategies and found them, at best, partially successful. What then?
A decade ago—or even today, at a less well-equipped podiatric office—you might be scheduling a date for surgery. But at Capital Podiatry Associates, we have an ace up our sleeves: MLS laser therapy.
This revolutionary technique is painless, drug-free, convenient, and has no known side effects. A series of 6-12 weekly or biweekly sessions are scheduled, with each individual appointment typically running no longer than 30 minutes (and sometimes a lot less).
The effects of the sessions are cumulative, and most of our patients tell us they start noticing improvement after as few as 1-3 sessions. This treatment is effective at bringing significant (and lasting) pain relief in around 9 out of 10 cases.
Laser therapy is highly recommended for patients who have not gotten the relief they were looking for with other treatments, or who just want the fastest possible recovery time. You can read more about the procedure in our recent blog.
What About Heel Spurs?
One of the most common fears that patients have is that their pain is being caused by heel spurs, which are bony deposits that can form an enlarged, spear-like protrusion along the heel bone.
Fortunately, this fear is usually unfounded. While it is true that surgery is the only way to remove a heel spur, it’s also true that most heel spurs do not actually cause any pain on their own, and thus do not actually need to be removed.
Most heel spurs are a secondary consequence of chronic plantar fasciitis, a soft tissue inflammatory condition affecting the underside of the heel. And in the vast majority of these cases, it’s the plantar fasciitis—rather than the spur—that’s causing all the pain.
The DC Area’s Heel Pain Experts
If you’re sick of heel pain and you want to get better fast—without surgery—give Capital Podiatry Associates a call. Conveniently located in Alexandria, we provide high quality care for all foot and ankle conditions, and will do everything we can to resolve your heel pain conservatively.
You can reach our office at (703) 560-3773, or request an appointment online.