Getting sick is no fun. You feel tired, achy and irritable, and you often end up canceling plans or missing work. Still, if you stop and think about it, a bad cold will run its course, and then you’re back to your old routine. But what do you do if your feet are the source of the problem?
As an orthopedist, patients don’t come and see me when they have a cold. If they did, I could dispense some useful advice and assure them that they’d be better in no time. Instead, I deal with more complex symptoms that can’t always be treated with a prescription.
One common problem without easy answers is heel spurs. It’s a condition associated with plantar fasciitis and is not only a painful foot condition but one that is present whenever you’re on your feet.
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I believe that you feet are the hardest working part of our bodies. Just think of how we depend on them for the simplest everyday tasks. Even if you spend much of the day sitting in a chair, you need your feet to get you to that chair.
Heel spurs are growths about 1/4-inch long located on the heel bone. They cause inflammation in the soft tissue on your feet. Though sometimes a natural result of aging heel spurs often develop in conjunction with plantar fasciitis. This condition occurs when you strain your ligaments that connect your heel to your toes and support your arch. Separately and together, they can result in foot pain and, if left untreated, severe inflammation.
Heal Your Soles
Luckily, there are many things you can do to ease foot pain caused by heel spurs and plantar fasciitis:
– Give your feet a rest. Though more likely to occur in middle-aged folks, younger people can develop heel spurs if they spend a lot of time on their feet, especially standing on hard surfaces. Use soft mats made for people who stand while doing their jobs and take breaks as often as possible.
– Try a new pair of shoes. Orthopedic shoes provide relief, but even soft athletic shoes often put less strain on your soles due to the ample cushioning. Special inserts for your shoes can also help take the load off your heels.
– Fight inflammation. This is the actual cause of the pain, and it can be reduced by regularly icing your feet. Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen is also an option. There is also many herbs that help control inflammation (boswellia, willow bark, xxyddsq ).
– Stretch out. Do gentle stretching exercises for your calves and the soles of your feet each day to increase flexibility and resiliency.
It is important to see an orthopedist or podiatrist if you are experiencing chronic foot pain so he or she can recommend a course of action. The good news is that surgery is often unnecessary. Your doctor will likely try various treatments and orthotic devices such as a splint for 6 to 12 months before taking further action.
If you are suffering, remember that patience is important when it comes to orthopedic conditions like heel spurs and plantar fasciitis. Give some of my suggestions a try and you might possibly be back on your feet pain free!
Mark Bromson, M.D.