At Carmel Foot Specialists, our doctors can rightfully be called foot and ankle surgeons. We all completed surgical residency programs. We’ve trained in advanced techniques. We perform foot surgery every week.
We’re good at it. We enjoy it, even.
So it might seem weird when we also say that we tried to avoid performing surgery whenever we can—especially for a condition like heel pain.
A surgeon who tries his or her best to not do surgery? How on earth does that make any sense!?
Well, it’s because we aren’t just foot surgeons. We’re comprehensive foot and ankle specialists who provide the whole range of care options—everything from advanced surgeries to sending you out the door with a “prescription” for a new pair of shoes.
And while we’re proud of our surgical care, we also see it as a last resort. We know you’d prefer not to have surgery if you can avoid it, and we don’t blame you. If we think that your condition can be treated with conservative therapies, we will do everything we can to exhaust those treatment options first.
That’s also why we’ve invested in a lot of advanced non-surgical therapies that have been able to significantly reduce the number of heel pain cases that, in past years, would have been recommended for surgical care.
More on that in a bit.
Even though we now offer the latest and greatest evidence-based treatment options right from the comfort of our office, the “old standby” conservative treatment methods can still play an important role in alleviating your heel pain. In mild-to-moderate cases, they may be all you require.
For pain management, giving your feet a rest and taking an over-the-counter painkiller or using an ice pack can often do you a lot of good. (We can follow up with a cortisone injection if your pain resists these more basic, at-home methods.)
More involved options include a regimen of physical therapy stretches, wearing splints at night time to keep your calves and arches stretched, or getting matched with the correct pair of arch supports or custom orthotics—or maybe even just a better pair of shoes.
Treatments such as orthotics are especially important if your heel pain is at least partially the result of a fundamental flaw with your own foot structure. We may yet require some more advanced treatments to alleviate the pain, but wearing your orthotics going forward is going to be extremely important if you want the pain to stay gone.
Advanced Conservative Therapies
So we have a confession to make, on behalf of our profession.
For years, podiatrists have been saying that heel pain rarely requires surgery, and that conservative therapies are effective in the vast majority of cases.
That is, of course, technically true. Most cases of heel pain do resolve conservatively.
But often by the time patients come to see us, they’ve had heel pain for so long—and already tried so hard to alleviate it—that reversing the damage and halting the symptoms could be a bit tricky.
Conservative treatments like the ones we described above were less likely to work, and down the road the patient might need surgery—or just decide they were willing to put up with the pain.
We definitely did not want our patients to give up—and we weren’t going to give up on them! Thankfully, we have a few more tools in our arsenal today, and the results have been nothing short of amazing.
We’re finding that with many of these treatments, our patients are improving dramatically in a very short time frame—even in cases where their heel pain is severe or they’ve been suffering for years.
For starters, there are a couple of injection-based therapies we offer—platelet-rich plasma and AmnioFix.
Like cortisone injections, both can quickly deliver long-lasting pain relief with a single injection. However, unlike cortisone, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and AmnioFix treat more than just the symptoms. They trigger natural healing and tissue regeneration processes to help you overcome stubborn, stagnant chronic inflammation.
PRP is the older of the two methods, but still highly effective in many cases. In that treatment, we’re taking a sample of your own blood, spinning it to create a highly concentrated mixture of platelets and white blood cells, then re-injecting it into the inflamed tissue.
AmnioFix, the newer procedure, is an injectable made from amniotic tissue, voluntarily donated after scheduled C-section procedures. This material is packed with growth factors and signaling proteins that can significantly accelerate the natural healing process.
And on the other side, we have what we might call our “extracorporeal” options, including the MLS laser system and SoftWave acoustic wave therapy. The former works by stimulating your cells with laser energy, while the later uses acoustic waves to “trick” your body into thinking it’s been injured and trigger the release of “biological responders” to the damaged tissue.
(We’re glossing over the fine details a bit, but if you want to learn more about any of these treatments in depth, please feel free to click the links above, or choose the option you want to learn about under “Specialty Treatments” in the menu on top of the page.
Relatively speaking, the “downside” of these extracorporeal treatments compared to the injection-based therapies is that they do require more of a treatment course—usually a handful of brief sessions spaced out over at least a few weeks.
However, the benefits of rapid pain relief, accelerated healing, and high success rate of non-surgical recovery are very similar with these tools. And they have other positive attributes, too: There are no needles or injections, no anesthesia needed, no trauma or pain, and no known side effects whatsoever.
In other words, if you don’t like needles, these are fantastic options.
And as we said, all of these advanced therapies have shown incredible success rates against a variety of tough soft tissue pain injuries, including most forms of heel pain.
So really it’s not so strange that a team of foot surgeons would work so hard to keep you out of surgery—and that’s even coming from a team that offers an advanced minimally invasive heel surgery procedure (known as TOPAZ) that offers much better results than traditional plantar fascia release surgery!
At the end of the day, our goal is to make you feel better, quickly and completely, using the least invasive and most convenient techniques at our disposal.
Sound good? We hope so. Because heel pain isn’t normal, and there’s a great chance that we can relieve it for you without any kind of surgery. To schedule an appointment, please call the office most convenient to your location:
- Myers Park: (704) 334-8682
- South Charlotte: (704) 542-8253