Dr. David DeFries

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Heel pain Plantar fasciitis

Achilles tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendon of the calve muscles. The condition is most often caused by either a trauma, a sudden or excessive stretch of the tendon or repetitive stress injury ( a micro trauma.)

The tendon attaches to the calcaneus (heel bone) and when irritated becomes inflamed. Think of irritation as the cause and inflammation as the effect. Persistent inflammation results in scar tissue formation which then leads to more pain and alters the  movement of the foot and ankle.  

There are typically two scenarios with which patients present with heel pain:

  1. A gradual onset of pain which started with discomfort in the heel or underside of the foot and continued to get worse. Examination often reveals other biomechanical issues such as a short leg, rotated pelvis and a head forward posture. These patients may have developed plantar fasciitis or heel spurs.
  2. An acute injury which happened after a specific event. Some patients can report an incident in which they remember the pain coming on either instantly or a short time after it occurred . They may have been exercising or stepped off a curb and felt pain in the heel or foot.

​Both scenarios, unless #2 is caught early, can result in chronic heel foot and heel pain which may be the result of the formation of heel spurs, plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendinitis. As noted in #1, chronic heel pain may be the result of and or lead to other complaints and conditions such as low back pain, hip pain, neck pain and knee pain.

Treatment for heel pain involved reducing the inflammation, stretching the tissue and most importantly addressing any dysfunction of normal movement of the body.

Laser therapy applied several times in the first week decreases the pain and inflammation. Gradually, stretching and exercises are introduced once the heel pain has subsided. Chiropractic manipulation and soft tissue mobilization to the foot and any other restricted area is also performed in order to address the cause and to break up scar tissue.

Patients typically report a dramatic reduction in heel pain within two weeks after undergoing laser therapy and many do not have any symptoms of heel pain after several weeks of combined treatment. Once the aggravating factors are addressed and maintenance care if followed, they condition rarely returns.