In a social situation when people learn I am a foot expert they often reveal they are experiencing heel pain and ask me how they can treat it. Plantar fasciitis, also known as heel pain, is a very common foot condition. However, it, like other common foot conditions, does not have a one-size-fits-all treatment. Pedorthic treatment is very effective at treating foot pain and increasing mobility but it is highly individualized as all patients have different foot mechanics.
A 56-year-old, female patient I treated this spring in my Kingston clinic clearly illustrates why pedorthic treatment plans need to be customized for every patient and why multiple treatment methods are required for some patients and not others. This patient had a common foot condition but her foot mechanics were far from ordinary.
The patient arrived in May complaining of pain in her heel. The pain had begun four months prior after she had taken her dogs for a walk in deep snow. Over the next few months the pain became progressively worse, forcing her to walk down stairs sideways and give up her regular gym class and other rigorous activities.
After a full assessment of her lower limbs and gait, I suggested she may have plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis has a number of causes but this patient’s case resulted from her having incredibly high arches – some of the highest I have seen – and extremely rigid feet. I recommended she visit her family doctor who confirmed the diagnosis and provided her with a prescription for custom orthotics as well as a referral to a physiotherapist.
The patient began a treatment program that included custom orthotics, physiotherapy, icing, a night time splint to keep her foot flexed at night and foot exercises. Within a couple of months her feet were almost back to normal and she was able to resume her normal activities. She said her orthotics made her feel better supported, her stance improved and her feet felt less achy and fatigued. Best of all she said she found her orthotics are so comfortable she wore them from morning to night.
This patient’s story shows why it is difficult for me to recommend a treatment in a social environment. Some patients who have plantar fasciitis, just require off-the-shelf orthotics, others require ice and orthopaedic shoes. Because of my patient’s unusually high arches she needed physiotherapy, icing, custom orthotics and foot exercises.
If you are experiencing foot pain or reduced mobility, book an appointment with a Canadian Certified Pedorthist. The Pedorthist will assess your individual foot type and situation and recommend a customized treatment program specifically for you.
By Amy Chapman, C. Ped (C), Kingston, ON