Why Won’t My Heel Pain Go Away?

If you’ve ever been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis you know the classic symptoms are very sharp heel pain first thing in the morning or after prolonged sitting. The pain can be so severe that it feels like you are stepping on shards of glass or thumb tacks.

We see a lot of “plantar fasciitis” (heel pain) cases that have not responded to traditional treatment methods. Why is this?

The term plantar fasciitis means inflammation of the plantar fascia. So typical plantar fasciitis treatment recommendations are rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medication. If inflammation of the plantar fascia is responsible for your pain, then these methods should work for you, and they should work quickly (in just 3-4 days your symptoms should decrease significantly or disappear).

If you have tried the traditional approach of reducing inflammation, then why do you still have pain?

The answer is usually simple. You likely were misdiagnosed. A more accurate term for your case is likely plantar fasciosis – which involves degeneration, microtearing and cell death, NOT INFLAMMATION. In fact, fasciitis and fasciosis are virtually opposite of one another and need to be treated entirely differently. Without proper diagnosis, your chance of proper treatment is extremely low.

Inflammation may be a necessary component to healing your case.

With plantar fasciosis, the tissue literally breaks down as a result of one or more factors: overuse, improper footwear, lack of flexibility and decreased circulation to the tissues.

How is plantar fasciosis treated?

Circulation must be improved, the loading mechanism must be removed and healing must begin. Think of it as you digging yourself a hole. Every time you overload it (via exercise, prolonged standing, improper footwear, etc) you dig your hole a little deeper. Initially the pain is intermittent, but eventually the pain becomes more frequent, more intense and sometimes constant.

How do I dig myself out of the hole?

New, healthy tissue must be stimulated and the tensile strength of the tissue must be increased. We use several soft tissue techniques to reduce scar tissue, normalize load and increase circulation-all of which begin to get you out of the hole you’ve dug. Additionally we perform specific ECCENTRIC exercises and stretches to restore adequate strength to the tissue and minimize load to the tissue.

Potential solutions to your condition are Active Release Techniques(r) and instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization. Both techniques effectively reduce adhesion formation (scar tissue), increase circulation (bring essential healing nutrients to the area and flush out waste products) and stimulate the fibroblast to produce collagen (replace scar tissue and dead cells with new, healthy tissue) all of which are necessary for effective plantar fasciosis treatment.

Often times when we see stubborn cases of “plantar fasciitis” it was as simple as a misdiagnosis (either by a physician or the patient themselves) and improper treatment for their heel pain is being rendered. Essentially it’s like trying to revive a dying plant that lacks sunlight by using water. Water should be good for the plant, but why doesn’t it work? Simple, it didn’t lack water, it lacked sunlight.

Effective treatment for your heel pain can only be administered after a proper diagnosis. We are very good at diagnosing heel pain. If we determine you suffer from plantar fasciosis rather than one of the other potential diagnoses, we have the tools to help you get on the path to recovery and eliminate the nagging symptoms you’re experiencing.

Thank you for reading.  Often times we can help you classify your case and get you on the RIGHT path to recovery just by hearing your story.   Click below to schedule a complimentary phone consultation with one of our doctors.  We hope we can offer you effective foot pain treatment in Cincinnati.