Plantar Fasciopathy/ Fasciitis: Heel Pain
New patients at our clinic are often confused by the overwhelming information posted on the internet. Much of the treatment advice for Plantar Fasciopathy is conflicting and produces varied results.
We refer to this information source as Dr.Google and we are all guilty of knocking on his door when a part of our body hurts. The problem is that what works for one person, won’t necessarily work for another. As human beings we are all different and in particular our feet are different. There are 26 bones and 34 joints in one foot so the chances of one foot being the same as another is pretty slim. Even 2 feet that belong to the same person will have subtle differences!
The fact that peoples feet function differently will probably explain why the cause of Plantar Fasciitis in one person will be different to the cause of Plantar Fasciitis in another. And let’s face it, there are several causes of Plantar Fasciitis so a “one size fits all” treatment approach is naive.
If your friend or work colleague hears of your Heel Pain and offers, “ I had Plantar Fasciitis once, just buy some arch supports from the Pharmacy” or “ I had a Heel Spur once, just roll your foot on a tennis ball”, you shouldn’t be surprised if your pain doesn’t go away. There are so many variables that need to be considered, fundamentally – what is the cause of the condition in your particular foot.
As a Sports Podiatrist, this is where I come in. It’s my job to analyse you and investigate and find that cause. We use cameras to video your feet, we look at you walking on a treadmill, we use pressure plate to do the pressure mapping of your feet when walking, we take foot measurements and look at joints and muscle range of movement.
I pay particular attention to footwear too as I understand that patients have no idea what sort of footwear are suitable for their feet. It’s understandable – why would you know which shoes match your foot type unless you were experienced in this area.
So it’s no surprise to me when I see a new patient with Plantar Fasciitis who has been wearing ballet flats and scuffs when they have tight calves and flat feet.
The point I’m trying to make here is that unless you know what has caused your Plantar Fasciitis or Heel Pain, and you are able to remove that cause, then you are probably not going to resolve your condition. If the lady with the flat feet and tight calves in the ballet flats, keeps rolling her heel over a frozen coke can, but continues wearing the ballet flats and doesn’t address the tight calves, then she is wasting her time.
I do understand why patients call our clinic and ask the question “So how will you treat my Heel Pain, I’ve got Plantar Fasciitis?” but there is not one answer. In fact, the short answer is “ I don’t know because I haven’t seen you yet” and the reality is that I need to assess you to find the cause. Once I have seen a patient I then remove the cause and implement treatments to unload the fascia and accelerate healing. It sounds simple, and in a way it is. Most patients find it simple too, once explained.
I hope this helps to explain why Dr. Google isn’t always able to help you as he has others with the same problem, and that in order to successfully treat your Plantar Fasciitis it is important to find the cause.