Your feet endure 60 tons of stress with each step you take. Your feet are designed to handle it, but much more stress can lead to pain and inflammation, especially of the heel. Heel pain is one of the most common issues affecting the foot and ankle.
At Monroe Foot & Ankle Care, serving the Monroe Township, New Jersey area, podiatric physician and surgeon Dr. Elliott Perel offers solutions for heel pain and for a wide range of other podiatric problems. Here’s what he’d like you to know about heel pain, and the potential for laser therapy to correct it.
What’s causing my heel pain?
Heel pain results primarily from repetitive stress, such as with long-distance running, ballet, or jumping. It can also occur with structural issues that affect the bones and soft tissues. Several different conditions can cause such pain.
The most common reason for heel pain, plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a tough band of tissue extending from the heel bone to the tip of the foot. If the tissue stretches beyond its normal limits, the fibers become inflamed, causing pain. While you most often feel the pain in the heel bone, it can present in the middle of the foot as well.
Active adults aged 40-70 are the most commonly affected, especially if they play sports or work on their feet for long periods. In addition, individuals who are overweight or obese, and pregnant women, are at risk, as the added weight puts stress on the feet. Structural problems such as high arches or flat feet can also lead to plantar fasciitis, as well as wearing shoes without enough arch support.
Your calf muscles attach to your heel bone by the Achilles tendon, and you use this connective tissue for running, jumping, and even pushing up on your toes. Achilles tendinitis is an overuse injury, often seen in runners who push themselves too hard and in weekend warriors, especially those who don’t warm up sufficiently.
With repetitive stress, the Achilles tendon develops microscopic tears, thickens, and weakens. You feel the pain at the back of the heel, and you may also notice a limited range of motion when you flex your foot.
The bursa is a fluid-filled, fibrous sac located at the back of the heel. Its purpose is to cushion the bone, muscles, and ligaments. Heel bursitis is an inflammatory condition of the bursa, which may result from repeatedly landing hard on your heels or from shoes that distribute your weight unevenly toward the heel. The pain may be located deep in the heel or in the Achilles tendon, the latter of which can swell along with the bursae.
Heel spurs are bony protrusions that form from calcium deposits on the underside of the heel bone. They’re often caused by muscle or ligament strains, stretching of the plantar fascia, and/or repeated tearing of the heel bone membrane. They’re most common in athletes who run and jump a lot.
Treating heel pain
Dr. Perel always starts with conservative treatments to treat heel pain, which includes rest, icing, OTC anti-inflammatories, orthotics, and bracing. He may also inject a corticosteroid directly into the damaged ligament. Physical therapy is a good choice, too, as it helps strengthen your lower leg muscles and stabilize your walk.
Surgery is only an option in extremely severe cases.
Can laser therapy help heel pain?
Dr. Perel also offers the Multiwave Locked System (MLS) Therapy Laser, a new kind of laser that efficiently and simultaneously addresses pain, inflammation, and edema. MLS technology delivers therapeutic wavelengths: 808nm to reduce swelling and act as an anti-inflammatory, and 905nm to reduce pain. By delivering both wavelengths at once, with both continuous and pulsed emissions, the laser produces greater anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects than either can produce on its own, while also minimizing the risk of damage from heat.
MLS laser therapy has become the standard for alleviating both acute and chronic pain, especially of the heel. This patented, FDA-approved technology has an 85-90% efficacy rate for pain and inflammation relief, eliminates the need for surgery and prescription painkillers, and has no negative side effects. It’s a great way to ditch the pain and get on with your active life.
If you’re dealing with heel pain, no matter what the cause, it’s time to come into Monroe Foot & Ankle care for an evaluation and a determination if you’re a good candidate for MLS laser therapy. Give the office a call at 732-521-6166, or book online with us today.