‘HEELING’ THE PAIN

Anyone with heel pain is well aware of the havoc it can wreak on your lifestyle. Our feet literally “keep us going,” so any kind of pain is sure to disrupt daily activities-from walking to the fridge, to a trip to the grocery store. Heel pain is actually an extremely common affliction that has a variety of different causes. These include stress fractures, arthritis, nerve irritation, cysts, tendonitis and most often, plantar fasciitis. While they all have some pretty menacing titles, the good news is they are all treatable. Let’s focus on two of these common foot conditions

Plantar fasciitis occurs when the tissue that connects the heel to the toes becomes inflamed. This inflammation causes pain on the bottom of the heel that can continue to grow in intensity over time. Let’s be candid–the only thing you want growing over time is your bank account, not pain. You may be prone to developing this condition if the mechanics of your feet are a bit “rough around the edges.” In other words, you have naturally flat feet or excessively high arches. You may even have poor alignment that causes you to walk on the inner or outer edges of your feet-and not in the gracious manner of a ballerina. Being overweight or wearing improper shoes can also bring on this unpleasant condition that affects just about 10% of the population.

Yet, there is hope! Treatment options for plantar fasciitis include some good ol’ stretching, icing, footwear modifications, anti-inflammatory medications and weight reduction to lessen pressure on the feet. More severe cases can be treated with additional padding and orthotic devices, the use of a walking cast, night splints and physical therapy. As you can see, many of these options are obtainable from the comfort of your own home. All it takes is a few adjustments and finding out what works for you.
The second topic worthy of addressing is tendonitis, an incredibly common ailment that affects millions of Americans-and no, you don’t have to be Usain Bolt to be afflicted. While athletes do suffer more from this condition, nearly anyone can experience its bothersome effects.Tendonitis translates into overuse and inflammation of the tendon-the area of your body that is connected to the muscle and that helps you move. Whether it’s participating in a dance off, taking notes during a meeting, or running on a treadmill, tendonitis can creep up and interrupt.

It happens when the tendon gets irritated from being moved outside of regular motion. The inflammation makes movement painful. Just like plantar fasciitis, there are many causes: overuse of the area, increased level of exercise, the joy of simply aging, or an anatomical alignment (in which case surgery might be necessary). In the foot, the most common type of tendonitis is Achilles tendonitis, affecting the large tendon in the back of the ankle. This type of injury mostly occurs in middle-age recreational athletes. So unless you’re running 4ks, you shouldn’t have to worry too much.

There is light at the end of the tendonitis tunnel. Treatment options are quite similar to those of plantar fasciitis, including stretching, physical therapy, strengthening, applying ice and heat and anti-inflammatory medications. Sometimes, however, the best treatment is the classic act of resting. After all, our bodies do have an incredible way of ‘heeling’ themselves.

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