Heel pain is one of the most common foot conditions, affecting nearly 1 in every 10 people, so it’s not surprising that heel pain can come from several sources, including plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, structural deformities, and heel spurs.
Fortunately, finding fast, lasting relief can be as easy as wearing a pair of orthotics.
Here, our team of experts at the US Neuropathy Centers breaks down how orthotics work and highlights a few of the reasons they’re often our first recommendation when treating heel pain.
The history of orthotics
These days, orthotics are made of responsive gel and memory foam, but they weren’t always so plush. In 1200 BC, doctors employed leather, wood, and even metal to construct “orthotics” to help their patients regain mobility and improve the complications of malformed limbs and joints.
Fortunately, orthotics have come a long way since then and are now more comfortable, effective, and user-friendly than ever. One archeological discovery uncovered orthotics that weighed over 20 pounds.
Here’s a closer look at how modern orthotics work.
How orthotics help heel pain
When you hear the word “orthotics,” you might picture an insert you slide into your shoe to get a bit of extra cushion, but there’s so much more to them.
When you come to us at US Neuropathy Centers for orthotics, we evaluate your situation and then decide which of the three main types of orthotics benefits you most. Depending on your needs, we may suggest soft, rigid, or semi-rigid orthotics.
Soft orthotics are what you might think the typical orthotic is. They provide a layer of cushion below your aching feet, cradling your entire foot from heel to toe. This pillowy effect goes a long way in allowing your heel to heal.
This type of orthotic acts as your first line of defense against the pressure coming from the ground as you walk, stand, or run.
Without orthotics, the stress from your movements and body weight tends to concentrate in your heel and the balls of your feet. With orthotics, the pressure is distributed more evenly throughout your foot.
We recommend these to our patients with diabetes-related foot problems, arthritis, and bunions.
Rigid orthotics, on the other hand, provide stability and keep you from making movements that might cause pain. They’re especially helpful when you have conditions like flat feet or plantar fasciitis because they support the middle of your feet and keep strain from exacerbating your symptoms.
You may have guessed it — semi-rigid orthotics are a perfect blend between soft and rigid orthotics. They give your feet the support and comfort they need when and where they need it most.
Choosing an orthotic
If we’ve convinced you that orthotics should be a part of your heel pain treatment plan, we understand if your first instinct is to rush to the nearest drugstore and grab a pack of whichever shoe inserts you see first.
But we recommend investing in custom orthotics. They may come with an added financial investment, but we’d argue they’re worth every penny.
Depending on what’s causing your heel pain and where it’s located, we can design custom orthotics with specific features that address your exact needs — something store-bought inserts simply can’t do.
Your store-bought options may provide some immediate relief, but it’s often short-lived. If you want comfort and therapy all in one, custom orthotics are the way to go.
Orthotics are often our first instinct when you come to us with heel pain, but they’re not the only trick we have up our sleeves. They pair nicely with a stretching program and a better, more supportive pair of shoes. We may also prescribe medication to bring down inflammation and control pain.
Should those conservative measures fail, we may turn to minimally invasive therapies, including platelet-rich plasma (PRP) or stem cell therapy.
If you need even more aggressive treatment, we can surgically relieve your heel pain with an endoscopic plantar fasciotomy or an ultrasound-guided partial plantar fasciectomy.
Don’t limp through another day nursing heel pain that won’t go away. Come see our experts and find out how orthotics and a customized treatment plan can help you.
Call our friendly staff at 404-228-9892 or use our online booking tool to schedule an appointment at our Marietta, Georgia, office today.