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If you are asking yourself (or others) about heel pain, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Heel and arch pain are very common and usually do not fully and completely resolve without intervention.

Have you ever-experienced severe heel or arch pain with your first few steps out of bed in the morning? Have you ever experienced severe heel or arch pain with your first few steps after you get up from sitting to begin walking?

Does your heel or arch pain go away after you walk around a bit only to return with a vengeance after you have been on your feet for a long time? At work, do you stand on hard floors most of the day?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, I have bad and good news for you. The bad news is: you likely have a condition called plantar fasciitis or calcaneal bursitis. The good news is: with the correct comprehensive treatment approach you can rid yourself of these annoying problems.

What is plantar fasciitis? First off, the plantar fascia is a band of connective tissue that connects from then inside of your heel to the balls of your feet. Its job is to act as a shock absorber during weight bearing while you are walking and standing. The plantar fascia is to support the bones on your foot to help maintain your arch.

In addition, the plantar fascia works together with your calf and big toe to provide smooth transition of weight as you walk, run or jump. When the plantar fascia is pulled into a position where it is too long (flat feet) or a position where it is too short (high arches), the plantar fascia becomes irritated, leading to plantar fasciitis.

The plantar fascia can also become irritated/painful when you do too much too soon. For example: You haven’t exercised in years and all of the sudden you decide to start a walking program for exercise doing 2 miles to start, and the next day your heel hurts.

What is calcaneal bursitis? The calcaneus is your heel bone and on the bottom of it is a bursa sac, which is a fluid filled sac that acts as a shock absorber and cushions your heel as you walk. If there is excess pressure on your heel for the same reasons mentioned above, the calcaneal bursa can become irritated, causing central heel pain.

So now that you understand why you are having heel/arch pain, what can you do about it?

The key to success is a multifaceted approach:

    You must resolve the irritation and inflammation

    You need to restore proper flexibility to the calf muscle and the big toe (as well as any other restricted areas)

    You need to restore strength to the muscles that support the arch of your foot

    You need to wear the proper shoe for your specific foot type to fully support your plantar fascia

    You may need to be fit with custom orthotics (a device fit specifically to your foot that goes in your shoe and supports your arch, taking pressure off your heel, arch and plantar fascia)

Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy therapists have become expert clinicians in the treatment of the foot and ankle. We have experienced excellent success in the treatment of heel and arch pain by using the above treatment process. Our physical therapists work to resolve the irritation and inflammation, restore range of motion and strength, and finally fit you with proper shoes and custom orthotics if needed.

Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy provides direct access care, which means that with most insurances you can call our office and schedule an evaluation with one of our foot and ankle experts without seeing your doctor first (we will communicate our findings and treatment plan with your doctor). This will save you time and money.

Also, you may call any of our offices and schedule a free screen if you would like to discuss your situation and find out more information before committing to treatment.

Steve Miller is the owner of Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy and can be reached by email at smiller@cardinmillerpt.com. His column will appear bi-monthly in the Thrive section of the Sentinel and on Cumberlink.com.

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