Find out how to treat heel pain yourself and when to see a podiatrist.
Whether you are an avid runner or just someone who likes going to the gym occasionally, it can be challenging to do these everyday activities when faced with heel pain. Did you take that run just a little too far yesterday? Did you suddenly intensify your exercise regime? Then your heels might be screaming out for sweet relief. Here’s how to tackle heel pain before seeing a podiatrist.
What causes heel pain?
Plantar fasciitis is typically the cause of most heel pain. While the name might seem a bit intimidating, don’t worry! Symptoms can often be managed through simple at-home remedies such as,
- Performing specific foot stretches and exercises to strengthen the muscles and improve function.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medication to soothe pain and inflammation temporarily.
- Avoid high-impact activities, which will often only exacerbate the condition and lead to further inflammation.
- Splint the foot or wear shoe inserts (orthotics) to provide arch support.
- Consider corticosteroid injections and extracorporeal shock wave therapy, which may also be helpful for those dealing with more severe or stubborn pain.
When should I call my podiatrist?
While you may not want to immediately rush to call your podiatrist at the first bout of pain, you mustn’t ignore a potentially serious issue. You should turn to a podiatrist if,
- You have severe heel pain or swelling
- You can’t point your foot downward or stand up on your tiptoes
- You also notice numbness or a tingling sensation in the heel accompanied by pain
- You experience sudden pain that occurs right after an injury
- You have diabetes or have neuropathy in your feet
- You have been trying at-home treatment options for a week, and there are no changes to your symptoms
If rest and home care haven’t been enough to manage your heel pain, it’s time to turn to a foot and ankle specialist who can help.
When should you turn to a podiatrist for care?
There are many reasons why people turn to podiatrists. After all, our feet and ankles deserve the same lovin’ care that you provide to the rest of your body. Wondering if it’s time to see a podiatrist (chances are good you could benefit from a visit)? You may want to turn to one for,
You turn to your dentist for routine checkups to prevent cavities and gum disease from happening so why wouldn’t you do the same thing with a podiatrist? By coming in once a year for a comprehensive evaluation, a podiatrist can examine your feet, discuss your lifestyle and determine if there are additional measures you should be taking to prevent injuries and other foot problems. A podiatrist can be as much preventive as they can be a great source for treatment. Athletes and active individuals can particularly benefit from undergoing preventive care with a podiatrist.
Bunions are common foot deformities that can continue to enlarge and impact the structure and function of your feet. A podiatrist wants to prevent individuals from needing surgery in the future, which means coming in the minute you suspect that you have a bunion so that they can provide simple lifestyle changes that can slow the progression of the deformity. Simple lifestyle changes can go a long way to improving bunion symptoms.
Foot and Ankle Injuries
Dealing with an injury? If so, you definitely want to turn to a foot and ankle specialist who can diagnose and treat the injury. While you may be able to treat minor injuries on your own with rest and home care, it’s often best to play it safe and turn to an expert who can figure out the extent of the injury so you can get the customized care you deserve.
Persistent Joint Pain
Dealing with painful, stiff or inflamed joints in your foot or ankle that won’t go away? This could be a sign of arthritis, a progressive chronic condition that can cause permanent joint damage if you don’t take the necessary steps to manage it. A podiatrist can craft the perfect treatment plan to improve your symptoms, which may include medications to slow the progression of the disease. A podiatrist is going to be the best medical professional to have on your treatment plan if you have arthritis.
When in doubt, call your local podiatrist to find out if the issues or concerns you’re facing require a professional opinion. A podiatrist can answer your questions, diagnose your issues and provide you with the treatment you need.
Conservative Treatment Options
If a bunion is caught during the early stages, then you’re in luck. Most people can get away with at-home care and more conservative ways to manage their bunions. Most podiatrists will recommend conservative measures first to see if they ease bunion stiffness, pain and swelling. It’s when symptoms aren’t managed through these lifestyle changes that a podiatrist steps in to provide relief. Some conservative ways to treat bunions include,
- Icing the bunion for 15-20 minutes at a time to ease pain and swelling. This can be done 3-4 times a day, every day, as needed.
- Taking an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen that can reduce inflammation and pain (while medication only provides temporary relief, when you are in pain, this medication can certainly help)
- Stretching out the foot with special mobility exercises for the feet and ankles (ask your podiatrist or simply search online for some of the best foot stretches to ease bunion stiffness)
- Wearing proper footwear that provides the ideal cushioning, fit, and support
- Avoiding high heels, shoes that put pressure on the bunion, and shoes with a pointed toe
- Getting custom orthotics from a podiatrist (these custom-made shoe inserts can provide additional support for the deformed joint)
So, you’ve been trying to manage your bunion symptoms on your own but nothing seems to be working. Does this sound like you? If so, it’s time to employ the help of your trusty podiatrist. After all, that’s what they are there for. A podiatrist can provide you with the treatment plan you need when home care fails to provide you with the results you’re looking for. Your podiatrist may recommend splinting, padding or tapping, or may prescribe a stronger pain reliever. They can also suggest specialty footwear that can provide ample support. They can also determine if it’s time to get corrective bunion surgery.
If you adopt these simple solutions you may find that it drastically slows the growth of your bunions and may even keep you from needing surgery in the future. Of course, if your bunion is causing you severe pain, it’s always best to speak with a foot and ankle specialist to find out what you can do to better manage your symptoms.
What is Raynaud’s disease?
This rare disorder temporarily narrows or restricts blood flow to the blood vessels of the extremities. Raynaud’s disease is characterized by an attack and is often the result of cold weather exposure. There are two types of Raynaud’s disease: primary and secondary. Primary Raynaud’s disease occurs on its own without a cause while secondary Raynaud’s disease is the result of an underlying health problem.
What causes it?
Sometimes Raynaud’s disease has no known cause (as is the case with primary Raynaud’s disease); however, certain autoimmune diseases, extreme stress, or cold weather exposure are typically the main causes. Risk factors that can increase the likelihood of primary Raynaud’s disease include:
- Being a woman
- Being under 30 years old (symptoms offer appear during the teen years)
- A family history of Raynaud’s disease
- Thyroid disorders, autoimmune diseases, and other chronic diseases
- Certain medications
- Exposure to certain chemicals, cold weather, or vibrating machines
What are the signs and symptoms?
When an attack occurs, skin on the toes and hands often turns white or pale. You may notice a loss of feeling in the extremities, as well. The area may also turn blue. Then once circulation returns, the area will warm and the skin will turn red. You may also notice burning, tingling, or throbbing as the sensation returns. Raynaud’s attack can last anywhere from several minutes to several hours.
How is Raynaud’s disease treated?
If a certain medication or underlying health problem is causing these attacks, your doctor may recommend switching medications or can help you better manage these chronic health problems to reduce your risks for an attack. If your primary Raynaud’s attacks are the result of cold exposure, avoiding cold temperatures is the best way to prevent attacks. Ensure that you are also properly bundled and wearing warm socks and gloves if you have to go outdoors on cold days.
Numbness and color changes in the feet can also be signs of diabetes and nerve damage, so it’s important that you see your podiatrist right away to rule out more serious health concerns.
Choose the Right Shoes for the Job
There’s a reason there are shoes just for runners, shoes for weightlifters, and shoes for soccer players. Every sport requires its own shoes that provide just the right cushioning, stability, and support for the feet and ankles. Wearing the right shoes for your chosen sport is imperative to providing your feet with exactly what they need whether it’s ankle stability for those quick side-to-side movements or added cushioning for power jumps.
Rotate Socks and Shoes Regularly
As you work out it’s natural for your feet to sweat; however, the last thing you want to do is leave your feet in sweaty shoes and socks. That’s why it’s always best to carry at least another pair of socks with you and to swap them out after exercise to prevent blisters or a nasty fungal infection. Always choose moisture-wicking socks to help wick away some of the sweat.
Know When to Get Rid of Your Shoes
No shoes are designed to last forever. While you may simply love your sneakers you have to recognize when to part ways and get a new pair. After all, shoes wear down over time and they are less likely to cushion or absorb shock, which can leave you prone to injuries. Shoes are only designed to last about 300-500 miles. If you see that the treads are wearing out this is a clear sign that it’s time to invest in a new pair of sneakers.
Train and Condition Regularly
It’s important that you condition your body and train even off-season so that your body is primed and ready once the season begins. Conditioning the body including the feet and ankles gets them prepared for activity, and it also means that you can increase intensity and duration gradually to reduce your risk for injury. Make sure that you are training throughout the season, even off-season.
Even if you aren’t dealing with foot or ankle problems, if you are physically active or an athlete, having a podiatrist that you turn to regularly for care and advice can go a long way to preventing injuries and other problems.
This website includes materials that are protected by copyright, or other proprietary rights. Transmission or reproduction of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use, as defined in the copyright laws, requires the written permission of the copyright owners.