Don't Let Heel Pain Stop You

You woke up feeling fine, but as you took your first step from bed, you felt a shot of pain from your heel. Making it to the shower was uncomfortable but the pain subsided. The hopes that you wouldn't have to go to the doctor were cut short, though, because the pain returned about noon. Strangely enough, it always returned after short periods of rest.

"I waited until the very last minute to finally do something about it," described Doris Mitchell. "The pain was always there, and I tried everything I could to make it stop. My daughter referred me to Patrick Mullen, D.P.M., after four months of suffering from a heel spur. I came to the point where I couldn't wait any longer."

A heel spur is a bony protrusion on the bottom of the heel. It is associated with a band of tissue in the bottom of the foot known as the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia inserts into the heel bone where the heel spur develops and spreads out into the foot. Excessive tension to this band of tissue due to your weight, shoes and even trauma can cause inflammation and pain. The size and pressure of a heel spur does not always correlate with the amount of pain.

Patrick W. Mullen. D.P.M, is a Board-Certified podiatrist and stays up-to-date on the latest non-surgical and surgical treatments of heel pain. Very often a patient can recover after an initial treatment with arch supports, orthotics, different shoes or anti-inflammatory medication.

Doctors may also simply initiate weekly physical therapy or foot taping, stretching and padding. As in Doris' case, if these treatments fail, a relatively new procedure called Endoscopic Plantar Fasciotomy may be the answer. In contrast to traditional types of heel surgery, this new outpatient procedure calls for only a small incision on both sides of the heel large enough to introduce a fiber optic endoscope. Using visualization on a TV monitor, small instruments are used to make small, precise incisions to the ligament and release tension, thus relieving the pain. Since there is little tissue injury, people are usually able to return to shoes in seven to 10 days versus four weeks with the old procedure. Patients also are often able to return to work in seven to 10 days with minimal pain compared to 4 to 6 weeks with the old procedure. "Dr. Mullen was wonderful, I couldn't ask for anything more. I only wish I hadn't waited so long in pain."

The cost of the new endoscopic surgery is comparable to the traditional open heel spur surgery. Actually, when considering the loss of work due to a lengthy recovery time, the new endoscopic surgery may in fact be less costly.

Please call Dr. Mullen at (559) 432-0220 for more information.