One of the great advertising campaigns of all-time is “the lonely Maytag repairman.” First introduced in 1967, “Ol’ Lonely” was a character used to demonstrate the reliability and quality of Maytag appliances. If you’re unfamiliar with this ad campaign, the basic message was that their products were so good, the repairman never had anything to do. In a way, your go-to foot doc is a bit like the Maytag repairman when you use orthotics to help your heel pain!
When the issues that cause heel pain are left untreated for 30 years, there is a 40-50% chance surgery will be needed to correct the problem. If we can get you set up with a pair of orthotics now, however, that risk drops to a 5% chance of surgery.
(Don’t worry, your go-to foot doc can find plenty of ways to fill his time if he doesn’t have to operate on your foot!)
Improving Your Foot Health with Custom Orthotics
Custom orthotic devices, like those from Sole Support labs are some of the best tools we have to help you overcome heel pain and other foot and ankle conditions as well. For very aggressive mechanical problems we use an orthotic that goes above the ankle by SOLO Laboratories called a Ritchie Brace. These devices are customized shoe inserts or braces prepared to work with your unique feet and address a mechanical issue you are experiencing. They are different than the inserts you can buy over-the-counter at stores and nationwide pharmacy chains. Those inserts may be able to provide some conditioning or arch support, but they are not intended to treat more than a minor problem.
What orthotics do to help heel pain is reposition the foot and restrict abnormal biomechanical motion. Our patients are quite familiar with the idea we can either “change the foot or change the environment around the foot.” Changing the foot means surgery to correct a problem.
Now, when external methods—like orthotic or Ritchie Braces—are used to control a problem, it doesn’t actually make the root cause go away. The symptoms will be addressed, but just like taking off a pair of eyeglasses, they will come back if you stop using them. The exception to the rule is when a pair of orthotics is used on a developing foot (ages 1-12), they can actually make permanent changes in the bone structure.
Orthotics and Heel Pain
The most common source of heel pain, by far, is plantar fasciitis. Orthotics can address the problem by restricting excessive pronation that caused repetitive pulling on the plantar fascia (a band of tissue connecting the heel to the bottom of the forefoot). This frequently happens with overuse during intense physical activities.
Although orthotics can be used to treat heel pain, there are certainly instances where other treatment options are successful at addressing the problem. The test we conduct before prescribing orthotics shows how effective they will be for you. The bottom line is that we are not going to prescribe them if you don’t need them or feel they won’t work – we aren’t The Good Feet Store!
If you are suffering from heel pain, don’t ignore it or wait for it to go away on its own. Instead, come in and see us here at our Indianapolis office. Call us at (317) 545-0505 and our staff will be glad to answer any questions or help you set up an appointment.