SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – The heel is the largest bone in the foot and when it hurts, it can really knock you off your feet. That pain is often caused by two common medical conditions.
Waiting for heel pain to go away on its own can be a long and annoying process. As Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, the good news is that pain is rarely permanent but you just can’t ignore it.
“There’s a lot of pain in the back. It’s usually on the same side where it always is,” said Mary Williamson. That left foot pain is all too familiar for Mary Williamson. She remembers the first time the pain became unbearable. “I really couldn’t stand especially when you’re sitting and getting up. I couldn’t do it. Getting out of bed in the morning was the worst.”
The cause of all the discomfort was a mystery for this nurse of 39 years. “With standing and moving and tugging and pulling – everything that we do – I just assumed it was you know like I pulled something.”
It was actually plantar fasciitis which is a painful inflammation on the bottom of the foot. It’s often accompanied by heel spurs which are calcium deposits that cause bony protrusions on the underside of the heel bone. “99 percent of the time conservative treatment works,” said Commonwealth Health Podiatrist Laura Virtue-Delayo, DPM.
The treatment starts with cold compresses. Dr. Virtue-Delayo said, “I like when patients freeze a water bottle and roll their heel on it because that will massage it and ice it.”
Simple stretches several times a day can also spell relief. “You just pull your toes upright and you can feel the stretch in the bottom of your foot all the way up to your calf,” said Mary. “Probably for about five or ten seconds.”
In Mary’s case, she’s also received occasional cortisone injections. Dr. Virtue-Delayo demonstrated on the side of Mary’s heel saying, “We put the shot in this area because the skin is a lot softer so it doesn’t hurt as much.”
Mary also makes sure she wears comfortable, good fitting shoes. “I never go barefoot. I always have a pair of shoes on constantly,” she said. “Even around the house.”
In Mary’s case and anyone else with heel pain, make sure that shoe isn’t flat and has the proper arch support. Dr. Virtue-Delayo said, “Your heel hurts you need to wear something with a heel so that the weight gets transferred to the ball of your foot.”
Dr. Virtue-Delayo also recommends wearing running shoes even if you don’t run. They’re designed to take the wear and tear off your feet. Look for signs of excessive wear on the heels or soles and consider getting orthotic shoe inserts which may help give you the heel pain relief you need.