One thing we've noticed recently is that heel pain seems to be increasing during the coronavirus pandemic. It seems like the vast majority of people in the Colorado Springs area are doing a great job of social distancing, but many people are now walking and jogging more than they were just a few weeks ago. We are blessed to live in a beautiful place where we can get outside and enjoying hiking, biking, and other great outdoor activities that Colorado has to offer.
If you have noticed worsening heel pain as your activity has increased, we are here to help. There are several things that you can do at home, and then several things that we can do to help you if the home therapies don't help. Most patients state that plantar fasciitis type pain hurts when they first get out of bed in the morning or when they stand up after sitting for a period of time.
Typical home therapies we recommend trying first are: not going barefoot and wearing supportive athletic tennis shoes, icing the heel for 20 minutes/ twice a day, performing achilles tendon stetching exercises, and possibly taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen as long as you don't have any medical reasons you can't take them.
If you are doing stretching exercises, we recommend stretching with your knee fully straightened or extended. We typically recommend that you stretch 5 different times throughout the day. Then each time that you stretch, you should do 3 different 30 second holds of the stretch. The main reason for this is that we think a tight achilles tendon (called equinus) is one of the primary contributors to heel pain developing.
If these home remedies don't provide enough relief, we have other treatments we can do to get you better. Different types of shots including cortisone or stem cell injections can be helpful at decreasing the pain. We also commonly make custom orthotics to help get rid of heel pain. Custom orthotics (and sometimes even a high quality over the counter orthotic) can really help decrease plantar fasciitis pain.
One word of caution on orthotics is that we think you don't need more cushion on your heel to get rid of the pain. That means that heel cushions and Dr. Scholl's gel inserts are pretty much a complete waste of your money, because they won't help with this problem. Also be very careful of stores that say they will make you a custom orthotic. Unless someone molds or scans your foot and then builds an orthotic based off of that mold, remember it's not a true custom orthotic.
We also use braces called night splints to help with stretching when patient's need this, and in severe cases that don't improve, we can immobilize your foot in a boot that works much like a walking cast. We are also able to perform minimally invasive surgery to help relieve the pain, although we are currently not performing these surgeries until the coronavirus pandemic has past, so that we can save personal protective equipment for treating patients suffering from Covid-19.
If you have any foot or ankle pain or emergencies like fractures or infections, we are here to help! Call our Colorado Springs podiatrists and foot and surgeons, Dr. Hinderland and Dr. Cameron, at 719-488-4664. We are also offering telemedicine appointments when possible, to try and promote social distancing. We are currently not having anyone in our waiting area at all, and are bringing patients directly into the treatment rooms to try to keep you as safe as possible if you need to see one of our foot and ankle doctors.