Non Surgical Treatment For Heel Pain means conservative therapy treatments (Non surgical), that means that there is no need for a surgical operation. Normally, if surgery is required it is for the removal of a bursa (Bursitis of the heel usually causes pain on the underside of the heel, which can increase in severity after a prolonged period of standing, sometimes pain to the rear of the heel that becomes more severe if the foot is bent up or down) or neuroma (a benign growth of nerve tissue) or some other growth, normally a “soft tissue” growth. Sometimes the Plantar fascia requires releasing (to relieve inflammation or swelling of the ligament due to Plantar fasciitis). Thankfully, these ailments that require surgical intervention are relatively rare. Statistics suggest that no more than one in twenty cases of heel pain will require a surgical intervention. Recovery times for surgery of heel pain can and often do require a long period of rest and recuperation and are not always successful in relieving heel pain.
As stated above heel pain rarely calls for surgical treatments as conservative therapy treatment methods are usually enough to relieve heel pains. In most cases, heel pain can be treated at home with stretching exercises, over the counter medications, the “RICE” formula. R.I.C.E is an acronym for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Rest is self explanatory and can involve several weeks (usually a six to eight weeks period is recommended) for complete recuperation to be achieved. Resting from any normal or strenuous activities that involve running, jumping or extended periods of standing can be crucial in avoiding the condition becoming more severe and requiring a surgical intervention. Continuing with any activity that increases or causes a recurrence of the heel pain is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs as surgery can be quite expensive and lead to even more time spent in recovery.
Ice treatment for heel pain can be applied at home too, there is no need for a hospital stay or visits to the doctor’s clinic. Applying ice can reduce swelling or inflammation. Never apply ice directly to the skin, rather the ice should be placed inside of a towel first and then the towel containing the ice should be wrapped around the area where the pain is located. It is recommended that the ice be applied for a maximum of 20 minutes, this will inhibit the chance of frostbite or a restriction of blood flow (ischemia). Some recommend applying ice at regular intervals or cycles of 20 minutes. Do not go overboard with ice applications as it has been known to have a delaying affect on healing times. 24 to 48 hours is considered a safe estimation.
Compression of the area where heel pain is situated is an excellent option that also reduces swelling or inflammation. If the swelling is not treated further complications can arise, pain may become acute and if left too long the swelling can lead to a reduction of blood flow due to the blood vessels becoming restricted. Compression bandages, stockings or sleeves are a perfect choice for the job. The bandage should not be applied too tightly, just tight enough to allow un-restricted movement but also sufficient support. Such devices are used in all hospitals and clinics around the world in the management of chronic or acute inflammation not just in instances of heel pain but anywhere that swelling can be a danger including cases of heart failure.
Elevation of the foot affected with heel pain can help reduce the dangers of Edema, oedema, dropsy or hydropsy which can occur when fluids build up under the skin. Edema can lead to shortness of breath, a difficulty in breathing, chest pain and even a blood clot deep in your veins (deep vein thrombosis). Blood flow is reduced to the area of pain, easing the pain and reducing the swelling. While resting the foot from strenuous activity, elevation is always a good option.
Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, Aspirin, Advil, Motrin IB acetaminophen can be used to reduce pain, swelling and inflammation in the affected area. Medicines with analgesic properties (pain reducing), antipyretic properties (fever reducing) also provide anti-inflammatory effects. Always use medications sparingly and abide with the instructions. It might be wise to check with your doctor prior to taking these medicines.
usually involve Insoles with added arch support and or a slightly raised heel, heel cups or heel pads are very good for relieving heel pain. Contrary to popular belief, custom orthotics usually aren’t required for heel pain. Insoles can provide the support and cushioning required and can in less severe cases enable the continuation of daily activities. Such insoles are actually a very good preventative option especially for sports minded people or just those who spend long periods of the day on their feet. Choose an insole or heel cup that adds extra padding or cushioning in the respective area where the heel pain is most acute. Heel cups are better suited to pain at the rear of the heel, insoles and heel pads offer better protection and shock absorption for pain on the bottom of the heel. Better shoes, not just more expensive but shoes that come with a substantial insole are also a worthwhile consideration.
A removable walking cast is another treatment for heel pain, that can be applied prior to seeking a surgical approach, should the treatments of rest, ice, insoles, heel cups, or insoles have proven unsatisfactory. A walking cast does have some drawbacks or negative aspects though. When the cast is removed, usually after several weeks, the muscles of the foot, ankle and calf can be seriously weakened and flexibility will also have deteriorated. This will require several weeks of rehabilitation to regain the strength in the muscles and to achieve full flexibility and motion of the foot. The walking cast forces rest of the heel and foot, which is good for heel pain but more time is spent off your feet, which can turn out quite expensive if it involves loss of earnings,
Wearing night splints should gently stretch the plantar fascia ligament and the Achilles tendon and prevent them from tightening up overnight but need to be coupled with other forms of support and cushioning during the day. Night splints do have their uses but are uncomfortable and cumbersome to wear and so can ruin a good nights sleep.
Weight loss is an often overlooked treatment that could be essential in the relief of pain and of course a common sense approach. Being overweight can often be a cause of heel pain and can also impede recovery in many ways. Losing weight is both healthy and common sense. The feet have to take the body weight and adding more weight adds more risk of something going wrong. The less strain on the feet and of course the heart the better.
Corticosteroid injections can only provide a short term relief from heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis. The injections are sometimes painful and are normally only used should other conservative treatment options fail to give adequate results. Corticosteroid injections are usually directly into the Plantar fascia. As with all medicines there is a slight risk of adverse side effects, this could sometimes include trouble with breathing or swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Should any of these side effects occur, immediate medical attention should be sought.
Orthotripsy (high frequency ultra-sonic shock waves) is a relatively new treatment option that was developed in 1991 and has enjoyed considerable success, decreasing the pain significantly in approximately 85 percent of patients who availed themselves of this recent technology. In a thankfully rare number of cases, it has been known to cause the plantar fascia to actually tear, so be warned. Orthotripsy can be expensive so make sure your insurance covers this option before proceeding. To date there are a few health conditions where orthotripsy is yet to be tested, these include tarsal tunnel syndrome, diabetic neuropathy, foot or ankle fractures, peripheral vascular disease, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, metabolic disorders, malignancies, paget’s disease, osteomyelitis and systemic infections. Orthotripsy is not recommended for pregnant women or children.
Physical therapy including stretching exercises can sometimes help to relieve heel pain, The tendons, ligaments and muscles of the foot can become tight due to inactivity and when called upon to perform at a higher level, say running instead of walking or a new exercise regime, this can lead to pain. Regular foot massage is a good idea if convenient as this will warm the muscles and keep them supple. Stretching and massage can ease heel or foot pain in some cases but bear in mind that there might me an underlying cause for concern.
Call your doctor, podiatrist or chiropractor if heel pain does not subside or gets worse after 2 – 3 weeks of home treatment methods.