Are You Making Your Heel Pain & Foot Injuries Worse?

Are You Making Your Heel Pain & Foot Injuries Worse?

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Heel pain is frustrating. At times, you can feel the tenderness with every single step you take. It can be severely limiting to your daily activities at home and work, and to life in general. It’s no surprise then, that when heel pain develops, our patients are after the same thing – to get rid of it as fast as possible.

This is absolutely our goal for you too, and we put everything in place to help make this happen and address both your symptoms and the causes of your heel pain too. Whether you have plantar fasciitis, a tendinopathy, a bursitis, a capsulitis or any problem that’s causing you heel/foot pain, we’ve got the treatment solutions to have your injury fixed, and reduce the chance of your injury recurring again in the future.

Unfortunately, there ARE things you may be doing that are worsening your injury and resulting in a longer healing and recovery time than either of us would like for you. We thought we’d highlight the top FOUR common mistakes so you can stay on track to your best recovery.

 

1. Don’t take the pain or symptoms seriously early on

It is a common tendency these days, especially in the early stages of injury, to brush off any niggles or tenderness in the thought that it will just go away on its own. It’s not until the pain becomes severe, or has persisted for over a month, that it begins to be taken seriously and with greater care. Unfortunately, by the time the pain is severe or long-standing, the injury will be much worse than when you first felt it. This means a much longer recovery, much to your (and our) frustration. An example of this is a mild case of plantar fasciitis that progresses to a plantar fascial tear when proper care isn’t taken.

We know it’s easy to think that when a tenderness or mild pain comes on during running or an activity, that it’ll go away just as quickly as it came on. The truth is that for pain to occur, that muscle or tissue will have been overloaded and pushed past its limits for some time now, until it has been too much and damage has occurred. As it’s left untreated, the injury worsens and becomes more serious (and painful).

The lesson: Listen to your body when pain, tenderness or niggles occur, and manage it effectively so that it doesn’t worsen.

 

2. Keep doing the activities that caused or contributed to the injury

This links into the last point in that when you don’t take an injury seriously, you don’t take it easy, rest properly, or stop doing the activities that led to your injury in the first place.

Because most non-traumatic, overuse injuries are linked to certain activities that are done regularly and repetitively, failing to rest and continuing with regular activities will cause further damage and leave you with an even longer recovery time. This may be a sporting activity, or just a high-load activity like always choosing the stairs at work.

We understand that for many people, accepting that they are truly ‘injured’ when they haven’t been to the hospital or have a cast on is difficult, and so they try to keep life and daily activities as normal as possible. The truth is that you DO have a serious injury and we haven’t put a cast on for both your quality of life and because we’ll gradually introduce movement and range of motion exercises into your treatment plan, which won’t work with a cast.

The lesson: If your podiatrist tells you to stop doing certain activities, stop them. If you want to recover optimally and in a timely manner, that is. Your daily activities will change but only until you recover. The time it takes for recovery will depend on what you do, and don’t do, in this time.

 

3. Constantly take anti-inflammatories and painkillers for a prolonged time

While anti-inflammatories and painkillers have a role to play in helping to manage painful symptoms in the initial stages of recovery, they cannot be continually relied upon throughout the weeks of recovery (unless indicated by your GP). Doing so, may actually have a detrimental effect. There are two reasons for this:

  1. While decreasing inflammation helps settle painful symptoms, inflammation is an essential part of the healing and repair process. When an area is inflamed, blood is directed to the area and with it come oxygen and nutrients necessary for tissue repair and healing.
  2. If you’re constantly taking painkillers, you may ‘feel’ better than you are, and start using your foot and heel normally as you cannot feel the pain so much. This can actually cause further damage and result in a longer recovery time. Pain on certain movements is our body’s way of telling us not to do that movement because it involves the damaged tissues/structures.

The lesson: Painkillers and anti-inflammatories definitely play a role in helping manage painful symptoms in the initial stages of injury, but if you’re taking them longer than 3-5 days following your injury, check with your GP.

 

4. Don’t do your stretches and physical therapy regularly

During your treatment at the appropriate times through your recovery, we’ll prescribe a series of stretching/strengthening exercises for you to complete daily. This is something that some patients can struggle with, and unfortunately, this is much to their detriment.

These exercises are given to you because sufficient repair has occurred that you can safely handle the exercises, and because your tissues, joints or muscles will have weakened and lost some flexibility/range of motion as you have been recovering. This makes you vulnerable to re-injury (and susceptible to other injuries) if we don’t get you back to your healthy and strong pre-injury state. This is what these exercises are designed to do and doing them as prescribed will mean the best short and long-term recovery.

The lesson: Make time for your exercises, even if that means setting a reminder or alarm on your phone. If you’re struggling to complete the exercises due to pain or other limitations, talk to your Podiatrist as they will have alternative versions for you to do instead.

The good news is that you’ve already done the best first step and sought treatment quickly. Often patients wait weeks, if not months, before seeking professional care in the hopes that the pain will just go away on its own. Unfortunately, even if the pain does resolve, the improper healing of the tissues leave the area weakened and vulnerable to future re-injury.

Our expert team at Sole Motion Podiatry specialise in helping you recover from lower limb injuries and get back to doing the things you love. Whether you have a new or long-standing injury, we’d love to help you feel your best. To book in, give our expert team a call on 1300-FX-FEET

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